In May, Governor Jay Inslee signed EHB 1638, a bill updating Washington state’s school and child care immunization requirements to remove the personal and philosophical exemption option for the MMR vaccine. Courtesy photo

In May, Governor Jay Inslee signed EHB 1638, a bill updating Washington state’s school and child care immunization requirements to remove the personal and philosophical exemption option for the MMR vaccine. Courtesy photo

New MMR immunization requirements before school starts

All K-12 students need to have received the MMR vaccine before first day of school.

Starting this fall, Washington state students will be required to receive a measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine before their first day of school.

In May, Gov. Jay Inslee signed EHB 1638, a bill updating Washington state’s school and child care immunization requirements to remove the personal and philosophical exemption option for the MMR vaccine.

Measles in Washington

The measles virus is extremely contagious, and can be serious, especially for young children.

Symptoms include fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes. A person can contract measles from an infected person as early as four days before they have a rash and for up to four days after the rash appears, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).

Since January there have been 12 measles outbreaks in King County and 86 outbreaks statewide.

In May, a staff member at Issaquah High School (IHS) was diagnosed with measles. The staff member was one of five new cases of measles that was recently identified by the DOH.

According to the Issaquah School District (ISD), Public Health of Seattle and King County advised the high school that it needed to verify the immunization status of all staff. In order to allow staff the needed time to obtain their records and share them with administrators, IHS closed May 16.

In the Northshore School District (NSD), a high school student at North Creek High School was another of the group diagnosed with the measles.

Both school districts urged families to monitor their students for signs of measles. Students who may have had measles were asked to stay away from school and see their primary care provider immediately.

The new exemption law change

The bill took effect July 28. It applies to public and private schools as well as child cares. The law removes the option for a personal and philosophical exemption to the MMR vaccine requirement for schools and child cares. It also requires employees and volunteers at child care centers to provide immunization records indicating they have received the MMR vaccine or proof of immunity.

“Measles outbreaks across the U.S. demonstrate why this bill is so vitally important. As a nation, we must step up our leadership to educate the public about the critical role vaccines have in keeping us healthy and safe and continue working with communities to improve vaccination rates,” Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a release. “We’re grateful for the Legislature and Gov. Inslee’s dedication to protecting public health and for the leadership of Rep. [Paul] Harris and Sen. [Annette] Cleveland.”

What students and families need to know

Students have limited time to receive their MMR vaccine before the first day of school. According to several school district releases, including Issaquah, Northshore, Lake Washington, Bellevue, Mercer Island and Snoqualmie Valley, two doses of MMR are required for all students in grades K-12 before school starts.

“If a student has had a personal or philosophical exemption in the past, we must now have documentation of MMR immunization from a health care provider on or before the first day of school on Sept. 4, 2019 as a condition of enrollment. The new law does not affect religious or medical exemptions,” according to the district releases. “Two doses of MMR are required for all students in grades K-12. The two doses must be given at least 28 days apart. When your child has a first MMR vaccination, please let your school nurse know the date it occurred as well as the date the second dose is administered.”

Washington state still allows exemptions from the MMR vaccine for medical, personal or religious reasons when obtained and signed by a provider and then reported to the students’ schools. Students who have one of these types of exemptions on file are not affected by the new law.

Students who do not receive the MMR vaccine, do not present documentation of MMR immunization, or do not present documentation of MMR exemption before school starts may still attend school through alternative learning experiences. Should a student enroll in any activities, such as band, orchestra, or sports, or participate in school transportation, or attend events where they may share air space with other students, they will need to meet the same immunization requirements as traditional students.

For more information, view the DOH’s Immunization Manual For Schools, Preschools, and Child Care Centers.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Starting July 6, three road paving projects to prepare for

Two full road closures and night paving work is coming to Redmond Ridge at Novelty Hill Road, near Duvall, July 6 through August

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

Most Read