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Washington State Board of Health votes to not require COVID-19 vaccines in schools, daycares

A vaccination center worker inoculates a woman with the Biontech vaccine against Covid-19 in Lower Saxony.
Moritz Frankenber
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I
A vaccination center worker inoculates a woman with the Biontech vaccine against Covid-19 in Lower Saxony.

The Washington State Board of Health has voted to not require COVID-19 vaccinations for children in schools or daycare facilities. Board members said they were concerned about schools’ ability to implement such a requirement, the changing nature of the virus, and pushback from parents.

State Health Department staff told the board, made up of healthcare professionals and elected officials, that they surveyed school nurses and administrators and came to the conclusion Washington’s education system does not have the resources to comply with a new vaccine mandate, on top of virus testing and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Health leaders said they also needed to do more education, and work to build trust in public health with families, before implementing a mandate.

Before the vote, Board of Health member Temple Lentz said if circumstances change, the board may reconsider.

“Based on the unknowns, and the evolving of information and the limitations on realistic implementation, I think it does make sense to support this motion,” Lentz said, “while also has been discussed, remaining open to more information that may mean we need to take it up again. To be clear, this is not a referendum on the vaccine, vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe and effective and remain one of the best ways forward to get us out of the pandemic.”

Board of Health members said vaccination rates for all immunizations are down. They encouraged parents to voluntarily vaccinate their children against COVID-19, and other diseases.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.