State schools

Panel opts against new vaccine requirement for state schools

SEATTLE — A state advisory group has decided not to recommend a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students in K-12 schools.

Last fall, the state Board of Health created a separate technical advisory group to research whether a COVID vaccine would meet all of the scientific criteria needed to be added to the list of required K-12 vaccinations. The group of volunteers was made up of doctors, public health workers, state and local education officials, and community organizers.

The group has met several times and in a vote late last month, six were in favor of requiring a COVID vaccine in schools, seven were against and four were unsure, reported. the Seattle Times. That means the panel will recommend against adding the COVID vaccine to the state’s administrative code when it presents its findings to the board.

“We have to keep an eye on the long term of what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think that’s community health as a whole,” said advisory group member and District 114 Superintendent of Services Greg Lynch. Olympic education. February 24 meeting. “We can’t afford right now to create a movement where the call is ‘go fast now’, without having the full picture (long-term data), which worries me.”

Others have also expressed concerns about the lack of data on vaccines for school-aged children and the potentially unpredictable social impacts of imposing a mandate.

“As a clinician, I’m used to uncertainty,” said Dr. Ben Wilfond, another member of the group and a pulmonologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “I actually think the data around COVID is more than enough for me to enthusiastically recommend it to anyone.

“But for those who aren’t ready to be there themselves and the implications of having this as an academic requirement, all the things that go with it far outweigh the value of incremental change in (community) immunization. that could happen…if we had that requirement.”

The technical group investigated the effectiveness and affordability of COVID injections, disease morbidity, and the reality of injection delivery and follow-up.

According to the state administrative code that requires vaccinations to enter schools or daycares, students must be vaccinated or present proof of acquired immunity against chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and a few other diseases.

Students with medical, religious, philosophical or personal exemptions are excluded from the requirement.

The board is expected to make a decision on next steps at a meeting in April.