Seattle kids fall behind on vaccines required for school
Public health officials are urging parents to get their kids up-to-date on immunizations before the school year starts, after fewer children received routine vaccinations since the start of the pandemic.
Why it matters: While Washington state doesn't require K-12 students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school, students are required to be up-to-date on seven other vaccinations, unless they receive an exemption.
- The mandated shots protect against measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and polio, among other diseases.
By the numbers: In 2021, 13% fewer vaccines were administered to King County children between 4 and 6 years old, compared to the pre-pandemic average from 2015 to 2019, according to the county health department.
- The state health department reported similar numbers.
The latest: Public Health — Seattle & King County is encouraging parents to take their children to one of several free vaccination clinics between now and late September.
- The health clinics will also offer vaccines that aren't required for school, such as those that prevent HPV, meningococcal disease and COVID-19.
- Clinics starting in September will offer flu shots, too.
What they're saying: "Childhood vaccinations are vital to protect both our children and the community from serious illnesses," Jeff Duchin, county health officer, said in a news release.
- "...The only reason we don't see diseases like childhood meningitis, measles, polio, and tetanus more often today is because the majority of children are vaccinated," he added.
Between the lines: While people can apply for their children to be exempt from school vaccine requirements for philosophical, religious or medical reasons, in most cases, exemption forms require a doctor's signature.
- Of note: People can no longer be exempted from the measles vaccine based on philosophical exemptions, following a law the Legislature passed in 2019.
What's next: School districts across Washington state have different start dates, but classes generally resume at the very end of August or in early September.
- For most students in Seattle Public Schools, the first day of class is Sept. 7.
More Seattle stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Seattle.