Opinion: No COVID-19 vaccine requirement for children, a state advisory group recommends

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center discusses the issue, which now is in the hands of the State Board of Health.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center discusses the issue, which now is in the hands of the State Board of Health

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

A Washington State Board of Health technical advisory group voted narrowly against recommending that a COVID-19 vaccine be added as a requirement for school entry.

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

The State Board of Health has the final say on the matter. It will “grapple” with the same issues that the advisory group just did, said a board member in attendance at Thursday’s all-day meeting. The board will also now have to consider that this selected advisory group gave a thumbs-down to the idea of adding a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

While many, if not all, of the advisory group members recognize the benefits of the vaccine and some are eager to help lead others to voluntary vaccination, the group was against a school mandate or requirement. Several expressed concern that the public health benefit that might be achieved through the requirement would be outweighed by the many downsides of such a rule. 

There was also valid concern that not enough is known about COVID-19’s transmissibility to justify a vaccination requirement. “Not knowing enough” was a common thread throughout the work sessions and in quality presentations. (We do know that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread and contract COVID-19.)

The technical advisory group took its job seriously, asking good questions and offering important comments. 

Concerned or interested parents and community members should continue to follow the issue. A list of State Board of Health meetings and agendas can be found on its website.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.

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