Monday, 06 July, 2020

Washington lawmakers weigh vaccine exemptions bill amid outbreak

A vial of the measles vaccine is displayed at the Kaiser Permanente Cascade Park office Monday morni Washington lawmakers weigh vaccine exemptions bill amid outbreak
Gustavo Carr | 12 February, 2019, 14:09

The proposed bill would eliminate that personal exemption, meaning all children would have to be vaccinated for a range of diseases before enrolling in schools or child care facilities. Most of those cases have been in unvaccinated children under 10. Health officials also say lower vaccination rates decrease so-called herd immunity, which can endanger children who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The state now allows vaccination exemptions for children at schools based on medical, religious or philosophical beliefs, The Associated Press reports.

However, there is now a greater push to change the current legislation.

"I want to remind you that the MMR vaccine is extremely safe and highly effective", Washington state Health Secretary John Wiesman told lawmakers, according to the Post, adding that "all reputable scientific studies have found no relation between measles and autism".

"Right now, my city is the hotbed for this outbreak", said Monica Stonier, the state representative for Clark County, Washington and a co-sponsor of the bill.

Measles can be risky, especially to children ages 5 years and below.

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The number stands at 53 confirmed cases of measles and two suspected cases in Clark County as of February 9.

People on both sides of the debate were allowed to speak at a hearing on Friday, Feb. 8.

Despite the outbreak, however, hundreds marched to keep the right not to vaccinate their children.

But opponents of the bill still think the measles vaccine is a bigger threat than the disease itself. The lawmakers hope to get the bill passed by April this year. "There's nothing that's going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination", said mother Monique Murray.

Public health did note some likely immune groups, such as those born before 1957, those who are certain they have already had the disease and those up-to-date on vaccines - one dose for children up to four years old and two doses for those four and older.