Washington state Board of Health decides against vaccine requirement for K-12

A technical advisory board recommended in February against making the COVID vaccine a required immunization.
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A vial of COVID-19 vaccine
A vial of COVID-19 vaccine
(JACK GUEZ/Getty)

The Washington state Board of Health has opted against a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students to enroll in grades K-12 this fall.

The unanimous vote against the requirement took place Wednesday, according to the Seattle Times.

In February, a technical advisory group assigned with the task of determining whether a COVID vaccine would meet all the scientific criteria necessary to be added to the list of immunizations required to attend K-12 advised against adding the COVID vaccine to the list.

The group said there was a lack of vaccine data for school-aged children and potentially tumultuous social impacts that could occur should such a mandate be imposed.

State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, a member of the state Board of Health, said Wednesday that the board continues to support "the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations."

"I also want to affirm the overall recommendation of the (advisory group), but that does not take away from the fact that our department continues to remain committed to its work to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19," he said.

If new data or a new variant emerges that appears to impact children more severely, the board could revisit its decision. 

At present, just two states – California and Louisiana – have added COVID vaccines to the list of required immunizations for students.