Immunization exemption bill dies

Legislation to eliminate the personal-belief exemption for immunization requirements died on the state House floor this week.

House Bill 2009 would have removed the personal or philosophical exemption but would have continued to allow the existing exemptions for both religious and medical reasons.

The legislation died Wednesday after failing to come up for a vote before the deadline for bills.

A similar bill died in Oregon. That bill would have only allowed medical exemptions, eliminating the personal/philosophical and religious exemptions.

The Washington State Medical Association was quick to voice its displeasure with the “lack of action by state lawmakers.”

“Due to inaction, legislators in Olympia have dropped the ball on this crucial public health issue – all but guaranteeing that many our state’s communities will remain at risk for outbreaks” said Dr. Brian Seppi, association president, in a news release.

Data from the 2013-14 school year shows that Washington’s vaccination rate for kindergartners still remains below the 90 percent baseline for preventing outbreaks, according to the association.

The association called the bill the “best opportunity for elected officials to rise above politics on a public health issue that continues to put our state’s residents at risk for potentially deadly, preventable diseases.”

“By failing to pass HB 2009, lawmakers have missed an opportunity to take the next step to bring our state’s vaccinations in line with national target vaccination rates and protect our communities,” Seppi said.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

Scroll to top