Tacoma foster parent opposing state's new mandate requiring flu vaccines

TACOMA -- The state is mandating that foster families who care for kids under 2 years of age to vaccinate their entire families.

The new rule is not sitting well with Glory Tichy.

The Tacoma mom questions the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, but she says her opposition is more about the state taking away her family's right to choose.

“I’m not against vaccinations; my kids are all vaccinated,” Tichy said.

All three of Tichy`s biological kids have received their recommended childhood vaccinations but the family has never gotten a flu shot.

“It’s our right to decide if we want to get a vaccination,” Tichy said.

It`s a choice Tichy is free to make for her biological children, but when she took in a foster child, she was shocked to learn the state required the entire family to get a flu shot if she took in kids under 2.

“It’s too soon to mandate a flu vaccine on the general public; the debate is back and forth on both sides,” Tichy said.

The state Department of Social & Health Services says the paramount focus is for the safety of their foster kids. They say state health officials strongly recommended the rule.

The department released a press release that reads, in part:

“We selected this age group because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health have indicated these are the children who are most vulnerable to illness.”

All vaccines licensed in the state are safe, said Dr. Paul Throne, with the state Health Department.

During this flu season, state health officials continue to urge people to get the shot. But Tichy isn’t changing her mind. Her foster child doesn't fall under the mandate but since she won`t get flu shots for her family, they won’t be able to take in any kids younger than 2.

“Our license has already been changed to over 2,” Tichy said.

She's not alone. She says dozens of other foster families are on her side. A Facebook page was created to voice opposition.

“We feel like there is going to be a huge impact on the kids,” Tichy said.

Tichy worries the mandate will force more foster families to opt out of taking younger kids,  causing more strain on a system already short on families.

“There is a massive shortage of foster homes and so for the state to implement one more thing, it’s going to inhibit more homes; there will be less homes for children,” Tichy said.

DSHS says they held a public meeting on the issue in October and had only one critical comment about the policy. Foster families have until February 27 to abide by the new rules.

DSHS says they are in the process of calling all the foster families so they didn't know if other  families want to opt out of the foster family program.