In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that removes the personal and philosophical option to exempt children from the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine required for school and child care entry. It also requires employees and volunteers at child care centers to provide immunization records indicating they have received the MMR vaccine, proof of immunity or a medical exemption. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 10, 2019, and goes into effect on July 28, 2019.
To help answer questions and share the current status, DOH has created an exemption law change webpage. This page contains information and resources on school and child care immunization requirement changes and provides links to sample letters and the revised Certificate of Exemption. The page is being updated as more information becomes available.
As of June 10, 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been 1,022 cases of measles in the United States this year, the greatest number since 1992. Measles is extremely contagious virus that travels through the air. You can get measles if you go near someone who has the virus because the virus stays for up to two hours in the air of a room where a person with measles has been.
The recent measles outbreaks in Washington and the ongoing outbreaks across the United States demonstrate why the change to the vaccine exemption law will help keep Washington healthy and safe from three serious diseases. As the new law comes into effect, DOH will continue work in helping parents and the public understand the safety record of vaccines and the critical role they have in saving lives. Learn more or contact Kathy Bay, DNP, RN, CENP (Clinical and Quality Assurance Section Manager at DOH).