Washington Senate Passes Bill That Would Limit Measles Vaccine Exemptions

Parents in Washington state may soon no longer be able to cite personal or philosophical reasons for not vaccinating their children for the measles virus after the passage of a bill by the state Senate on Wednesday.

The measure eliminating the exception was passed 25-22, allowing it to go before the House where it is also expected to be approved. It will then be presented to Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who is expected to sign it into law.

The measure was passed last month by the House but was then amended by a Senate committee, requiring it to undergo another House vote.

A woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The Washington state Senate has passed a bill that would remove p

A woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The Washington state Senate has passed a bill that would remove parents’ ability to cite personal or philosophical reasons for not vaccinating their children for the measles virus.

The law would be the first by a state in four years to remove personal exemptions amid a rise in anti-vaccine views. California and Vermont removed personal exemptions in 2015, The Washington Post reported.

Parents would still be allowed to declare religious exemptions.

All 50 states have legislation that requires specified vaccines for students. Nearly all of them grant religious exemptions ― California, Mississippi and West Virginia do not. Washington is one of 17 states that allows exemptions from required immunizations for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The majority of Washington’s K-12 students who have non-medical vaccine exemptions would be affected by this proposed law, according to King 5 News.

Signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department,

Signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department, in Pomona, New York.

Of the students with exemptions, who make up 4% of the student population, 3.7% of those exemptions are for personal reasons. The rest are for religious reasons, the station reported, citing the state’s Department of Health.

The legislative action comes as the nation faces one of its worst measles outbreaks in more than two decades. 

As of last week, 555 cases had been reported in 20 states, up from 15 states earlier this month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been 74 confirmed cases in Washington state, according to the state’s Department of Health. 

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