As the measles outbreak in the Vancouver, Washington area continues to rise, 53 confirmed cases and seven suspect cases as of Friday with the bulk of the cases being unvaccinated, the Washington State House Committee on Health Care & Wellness held a public hearing on HB 1638, Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases.
In a nutshell, the bill states a philosophical or personal objection may not be used to exempt a child from the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Proof of disease immunity through documentation of laboratory evidence of antibody titer or a health care provider’s attestation of a child’s history of a disease sufficient to provide immunity against that disease constitutes proof of immunization for that specific disease.
Rep. Paul Harris (R) of the 17th District, Vancouver said:
Literally hundreds of thousands of people in my community have been involved in this issue and have lend support to this bill they’re very concerned they’re concerned about our community it’s immunity and the community safety we are concerned about the choice of freedom freedom of choice for all children for children who have suppressed immune compromised who really can’t be immunized who are who are locked up in their homes right now lots of them we have people who are concerned that they can’t come out in the public who have very small children.
The Secretary of the Department of Health, John Wiesman testified:
This bill simply put it is about safe schools and protecting vulnerable children we are currently in the midst of a totally preventable musicals outbreak which illustrates the importance and timeliness of this bill over the last ten years Washington has had three large measles outbreaks and one of which included the death of an immunocompromised person exposed to measles in a clinic waiting room.
Weisman also noted that the outbreak is larger and infecting people faster than recent history.
Watch the hearing below:
Washington and neighboring Oregon are two of the 17 states that allow some type of non-medical exemption for vaccines for “personal, moral or other beliefs”.
Four percent of Washington secondary school students have non-medical vaccine exemptions, according to the state Department of Health. Of those, 3.7 percent of the exemptions are personal, with the remainder being religious exemptions. In Clark County, 6.7 percent of kindergartners had a non-medical exemption for the 2017-18 school year, according to health officials.
In addition to Harris, Reps. Stonier, Robinson, Macri, Jinkins, Cody, Thai, Davis, Appleton, Doglio, Frame, Stanford, Bergquist, Santos and Tarleton sponsored the bill.