In May 2019 the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that removes the personal and philosophical option to exempt children only from the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine required for school and child care entry. You may have received information from the Washington State Department of Health, and informed your community. If you have not, please take note of the following that goes into effect on the first day of school 2019-20:
- The bill took effect July 29, 2019 and applies to public and private schools and child cares. The law removes the option for a personal/philosophical exemption to the MMR vaccine requirement for schools and child cares.
- The bill requires employees and volunteers at child care centers to provide immunization records indicating they have received the MMR vaccine or proof of immunity.
The attached letter written by the WSDH is a sample for you to send to parents of the children who have in the past opted out of the vaccination for philosophical or personal reasons. We recommend that you send this letter to those families. For new families, this information about the new requirements should be in your registration packets. The information that is housed on the state website has many resources that your school may find useful.
In answer to the question found on the FAQ’s: “Can a student walk in the door on the first day without appropriate documentation of immunization?”
Students are required to have 2 doses of MMR vaccine or a religious, religious membership, or medical exemption when they start school in the fall. Paperwork showing that the student is fully immunized, has started the vaccine series, or has an exemption must be turned in on or before the student’s first day of attendance (per RCW 28A210-080). Students who are not in compliance with the requirement then have 30 days from the first day of attendance, not from the day of notification, to provide the required documentation. If a student has received one dose of MMR and is waiting to get the second dose, they will be allowed to remain in conditional status (may start school) for 30 days after the recommended date of administration for the next does. The exception to this applies to students who are considered homeless according to the McKinney-Vento Act. These students must be allowed to enroll, attend classes, and participate fully. They cannot be excluded for being out of compliance with the immunization requirements.
Keep in mind:
- Only the MMR vaccine exemptions changed.
- There is no grandfathering for those who had personal or philosophical exemptions.
- International Students, even those attending for a short time, must comply with state immunization requirements. The host parent may sign the CIS, if needed.
- Staffs and volunteers of licensed preschools or child care center locations must also be vaccinated. (This is inclusive of the K-8 staff).
- Fifteen Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies across the state are offering MMR vaccine free of charge, click here for Certificate of Exemption forms
- Families can set up on-line record keeping for immunization records
Additional information and guidance will be sent regarding requests at Catholic Schools for religious exemption to the MMR vaccine. Any new information on the interpretation of the new requirements regarding MMR vaccine exemptions will be forwarded to you.