Washington State Eliminates the Personal Exemption for MMR

Washington’s Governor also signed a new law this week that will eliminate the “personal exemption” that parents can sign to exempt their kids from school and pre-school vaccination attendance requirements. 

Interestingly, the new law just eliminates the personal exemption for the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.  The personal exemption option will still be available for the other school-required vaccines.  The new law will be effective before the start of this year’s school season.

Washington lawmakers overcame strong lobbying by anti-vaccine groups who mobilized hundreds of supporters, who telephoned and sent emails to lawmakers, and turned out in large numbers for the hearings.

As is often the case, a protracted outbreak created the political will to pass the measure.  Earlier this year Washington declared a  state of emergency after officials reported 25 measles cases. The cases continued to climb – and so far 78 measles cases have been confirmed in Washington and neighboring Oregon.

As is the case in AZ, Washington has seen a consistent increase in the number of kids whose parents have exempted them from vaccination school enrollment requirements.  In fact, Washington’s exemption rate for Kindergarteners is 4.7%.  Arizona’s exemption rate is even worse than Washington’s- as the exemption rates for Kindergarten went up this year to 5.9%.

It’s only a matter of time before Arizona has a Washington/Oregon style outbreak.  Most likely it’ll be in a place like Yavapai County- which has the state’s lowest immunization rates.  There’s a good chance it’ll start when an unvaccinated Arizonan returns from Europe with measles and spreads it within their community.