POLITICS

Washington State Narrows Exemptions For Measles Vaccine Requirement

A new law won't grant exemptions for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for personal or philosophical reasons.

Parents in Washington state will soon no longer be able to claim a personal or philosophical exemption for not having their children get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Friday signed a bill into law that will limit such exemptions as the nation grapples with one of the largest measles outbreaks since officials in 2000 declared the virus eliminated.

“In Washington state, we believe in our doctors. We believe in our nurses. We believe in our educators. We believe in science and we love our children,” Inslee said before signing the bill. “And that is why in Washington state, we are against measles.”

A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in
A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington.

Large measles outbreaks in Washington state, New York state and New York City have been blamed for causing the number of cases nationwide to skyrocket this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of last week, there have been at least 764 cases reported in 23 states, the CDC reported.

“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the CDC has warned.

Washington is one of 17 states that have allowed exemptions for “personal, moral or other beliefs.” It will still allow religious exemptions ― most states do, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures ― once the law takes effect at the end of July.

Protest signs lay abandoned outside Oregon's state capitol in Salem in February following a protest over a proposal to tighte
Protest signs lay abandoned outside Oregon's state capitol in Salem in February following a protest over a proposal to tighten vaccination requirements for school children.

Washington will be the first state in four years to remove personal exemptions amid a rise in anti-vaccine views. California and Vermont removed personal exemptions in 2015, The Washington Post previously reported.

Oregon is also considering outlawing personal as well as religious exemptions for vaccines. The state House last week passed a bill that would do that; the legislation is now pending in the state Senate.

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