Washington state's new immunization law: How does it affect you?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Photo courtesy Public Health
Seattle and King County Public Health

Your back to school routine may look a little different this year. 

That’s because Washington State recently passed a law removing personal/ philosophical exemptions for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. 

The law also requires employees and volunteers at licensed childcare centers to provide immunization records indicating they’ve received the MMR vaccine or have proof of immunity.

Why the change?

2019 has been a record-breaker, with over 1200 measles cases in 30 states – more than any other year since 1992. Washington State earned its place in the headlines, with 85 cases since January, including 12 in King County.

The vast majority of Washington State students are immunized against measles. Yet during this outbreak, 80% of the state’s cases were among unvaccinated children, offering a sobering reminder: when even a subset of the community is unimmunized, vaccine-preventable diseases can quickly gain a foothold.

Is measles really that serious?

Yes. Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases. If one person has measles, nine out of 10 people in direct contact with that person who aren’t immune (protected) will also get infected. People can be contagious before they realize they’re sick, and unwittingly spread the disease. Measles can be dangerous — serious cases can lead to brain damage and even death.

In contrast, MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. One dose is about 93% effective at preventing measles, and two doses are 97% effective.




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