Law causes vaccination exemptions to drop
July 10, 2012
The statewide rate of exemptions from vaccines required for school dropped significantly in the year since a law changed the parental opt-out process.
Kindergarten exemption rates for required immunizations dropped to 4.5 percent for the 2011-12 school year compared to 6 percent in 2010-11 and 6.2 percent in 2009-10.
Under the law, exemption-seeking parents must get information from a health care provider about the benefits and risks of a vaccine before the provider signs the exemption form.
Children with exemptions tend to live in the same areas and attend the same schools. The concentration of un- and under-vaccinated children increases the risk of outbreaks.
In the Issaquah School District, 4 percent to 4.9 percent of all students had exemptions for the 2010-11 school year. For kindergartens in the district during the same period, state data indicated 5 percent to 9.9 percent had exemptions. (The district serves about 17,000 students.)
The state Childhood Vaccine Program provides all recommended vaccines for Washington children under age 19 at no cost. Physicians may charge a fee for the office visit, but patients can ask for the fee to be waived.