Seattle school board urging state leaders to review COVID-19 vaccine for immunization requirements

The Seattle School Board of Directors passed a resolution to urge the State Board of Health to begin reviewing the COVID-19 vaccine for school immunization requirements.

"What we are doing is everything in our power to ensure that not one child dies or has long-lasting, lifelong effects from a completely and utterly preventable disease," said Brandon Hersey, the Seattle School Board Director. 

Leading up to the decision, school leaders conducted additional community engagement sessions with the following: Latinx Community with Public Health –Seattle and King County, the NAACP, the Seattle Special Education PTSA, the Somali Community, Families of Color Seattle, General Seattle Public Schools Families and Staff, Native American Families and Students of Color.

"It’s a very contagious disease and we know that it spreads in community settings, so I’m completely behind having a vaccine requirement for COVID," said Seattle parent Janet Crisp.

The Washington State Board of Health is coordinating with the Department of Health to start the process of forming a technical advisory group that will consider adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the state’s list of immunizations students must receive before attending school.

"I do not anticipate a mandate this school year. It may not even come early next year, but the kind of timing they historically used at the State Board of Health tells me it’ll go through a very rigorous process. They’ll see it not just in the clinical trial setting, they’re going to look at it now that it’s out there across all of the United States. They’re going to do this well, and if it becomes a requirement by next school year it will have gone through the same full process all the other vaccine requirements go through," said Chris Reykdal, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Some families are still not on board with vaccinating their children and don’t support adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of requirements.

"If any parent wants to get their child vaccinated, sure go for it. Anybody around me that’s vaccinated, that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with it. The problem that I have is when it’s being mandated and shoved down our throats, whether it’s our kids or us and jobs and everything else. That’s where I have an issue," said Heather Grayson, Fife School District parent.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 and older and for 5 to 11-year-olds are currently being administered under emergency use authorization. State leaders would consider adding the vaccine to the list of requirements after it’s fully approved by the FDA and CDC.

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