It’s Official – HB 1638 Changes go into Effect

For Children Enrolled in Schools & Day Care Centers

  • Religious and medical exemptions from MMR still intact
  • All exemption types from other vaccines still intact
  • No personal exemption from the MMR vaccine

New Requirement For Adults Working or Volunteering in Licensed Child Day Care Centers

  • Show Proof of Vaccination or Immunity
  • Receive more MMR if no proof can be found
  • Religious exemption is not available

Washington’s HB 1638 went into effect on July 28th 2019, removing the personal/philosophical right to opt out of the flawed MMR vaccine in order to attend child day care and schools. (Department of Health Page and FAQs on the change)

In preparation for the fall, schools have been notifying families who previously claimed a personal exemption for the MMR to get inoculated or update their Certificate of Exemption (COE). Notifications have been problematic in that some schools have neglected to remind families of the complete law – that medical and religious exemptions still exist for the MMR. This amounts to illegal coercion to vaccinate.

Another problem with these ‘immunization’ notifications is that they are typically sent only to those who previously chose the personal exemption; the tiny group of parents who even know about exemptions. A large portion of enrolled families do not even know they can opt-out of MMR, or from any of the other 27 shots mandated by the Washington State Department of Health. Personal/Philosophic, religious and medical exemptions are allowed for all other state-mandated vaccines.

While the media was focused on the law change with regards to children, it will surprise many that HB 1638 also requires day care workers and volunteers to show proof of immunity or receive an MMR shot. Perhaps most disturbing is that the new law does not allow any form of religious exemption for adult workers in day care centers, the same right afforded to families enrolled in day care. This subtlety about the law will either force conscientious adults out of their jobs or require them to take additional shots of MMR, which, like measles, is known to be more dangerous for adults. There have already been reports of preschool workers being injured from MMR. It would appear that the sponsoring legislators did a good job of focusing our attention on the childhood vaccination exemptions while quietly removing the rights of certain adults and exposing them to lifelong health risks.

Despite the thousands who protested against HB 1638, the incorrect vaccination rate data continually cited by the bill sponsors, and the safe conclusion of the outbreak, the law has gone into effect and is causing no small amount of confusion in government offices. According to comments during the Vaccine Advisory Committee on July 18th, Washington Department of Health offices are still struggling to adjust to the new rule, given all the required paperwork and swirl of questions from the public.

The Department of Health should expect more dissatisfied feedback and confusion as the start of the school year approaches.

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