WSMA Responds to Lack of Action on Immunization Exemption Bill

The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA)
Responds to Lack of Action by State Lawmakers on Immunization Exemption Bill
Seattle, Wash. – The Washington State Medical Association is extremely disappointed that state legislators have failed to pass legislation removing the personal/philosophical vaccine exemption (House Bill 2009). Given Washington state’s nationally low vaccination rates, HB 2009 was our best opportunity for elected officials to rise above politics on a public health issue that continues to put our state’s residents at risk for potentially deadly, preventable diseases.
“Due to inaction, legislators in Olympia have dropped the ball on this crucial public health issue – all but guaranteeing that many our state’s communities will remain at risk for outbreaks” said WSMA President Brian Seppi, MD.
Data from 2013-14 show our state’s vaccination rate for kindergarten-age children still remains below the 90 percent federal baseline for preventing outbreaks. Nearly 9 out of 10 children with non-medical exemptions claimed personal/philosophical reasons.
The WSMA applauded state lawmakers in 2011, after passing a bill requiring those seeking exemptions for their children to submit a certificate of exemption (or letter) signed by a licensed physician.
Said Dr. Seppi, “By failing to pass HB 2009, lawmakers have missed an opportunity to take the next step to bring our state’s vaccinations in line with national target vaccination rates and protect our communities.”
WSMA members overwhelmingly supported the elimination of personal and philosophical vaccine exemptions for school, child care and preschool immunization requirements at the association’s 2014 annual meeting. HB 2009 had the support of the WSMA, Gov. Inslee, the state Department of Health and other public health agencies and experts.
As the state medical association, our mission is centered on making Washington the best place to practice medicine and receive care. The WSMA will continue to encourage patients to get their recommended vaccinations and will look to next year’s session to push this issue forward on behalf of our patients and our state’s communities.
The Washington State Medical Association’s vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. The WSMA represents physicians, physician assistants, residents and medical students throughout Washington state. For more information about the WSMA, please visit
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