Letter: Parents ‘still have the right to claim a religious or medical exemption’ in spite of Senate Bill 1638

Vancouver resident shares her experiences with Vancouver Public Schools

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com.

Washington State Senate Bill 1638 passed during the last legislative session and became law as of July 28, 2019.  This law removes the philosophical exemption to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) to enter public and private schools through grade 12.

Letter: Parents ‘still have the right to claim a religious or medical exemption’ in spite of Senate Bill 1638
Katie Bauer

What is not being mentioned to parents is that they still have the right to claim a religious or medical exemption.  Those that are informed and choose NOT to vaccinate their children still have the right to claim a religious exemption for all vaccines INCLUDING the MMR if they do not have a medical exemption.  To obtain the religious exemption, medical providers, under the law, are to provide information on vaccination benefits and risks to the parents and then sign the exemption form.. A medical provider’s opinion of their religious beliefs is not a factor under the law.  

On the last day of school in June, Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) sent a letter to families who had previously chosen the personal exemption.  The letter ONLY stated that they were now required to receive the MMR vaccine or be excluded. The letter failed to mention that two other options still exist: religious or medical.  I contacted the administrator in charge of the VPS nurses, and he stated that the nurses chose the wording of the letter. We asked that an updated letter be sent and were told that they would as soon as translators came back from summer vacation. To date, no updated letter has been sent. Camas School District rightly sent a letter that included the exemption options.

Parents: please be aware that you have options.  You do NOT need to vaccinate your child if you feel it is against your personal religious belief.  You do NOT need to be affiliated with a church.

Another critical element that is just coming to light for many adults is that if one works or volunteers at a childcare center the options are more limited. One MUST receive the MMR vaccine, prove that they have had the MMR vaccine, show a titer test that proves immunity or obtain a medical exemption.  A religious exemption is not allowed. The sponsoring legislators did a great job of keeping the crowd looking after the children, while abusing the rights of adults.

Katie Bauer


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