Gov. Christine Gregoire recently signed a bill to require medical consultations before students could be exempt from required vaccines. Signed into law on May 10, Senate Bill 5005 requires parents to seek qualified medical counsel regarding immunization exemptions -- a change from the prior law that simply allowed parents to opt out.
According to the King County Health Department the bill closes a loophole in state policy, “which many felt made it easy for parents to exempt their child from school immunization requirements based only on convenience,” it states on the county’s website. Washington’s exemption rates have more than doubled over the last 10 years — during the 2009-2010 school year, 6.2 percent of children had a signed exemption. The national average for exemption rates is estimated at less than 2 percent.
Northshore School District will align its immunization regulations with the new state requirements, according to Leanna Albrecht, communications director for the district. Forms for the new requirements will be on the district’s website by July 22, 2011.