VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that removes parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption for their children from receiving the combined measles, mumps, rubella vaccine before attending school.
The governor signed HB 1638 on Friday morning in Clark County — where a measles outbreak was recently declared over. Since 2019 started, Washington has seen 74 confirmed cases, and 71 of those measles cases were in Clark County. Most of those affected were children and not vaccinated.
“What we need to do in the state of Washington is make decisions based on science, based on medicine and we have to do it to help all of our children,” Gov. Inslee said.
Ahead of the signing, parents against vaccines and the legislation protested outside Vancouver City Hall while vaccine supporters gathered inside.
Miriah Sachs of Vancouver said she isn’t anti-vaccines, but that she’s for more research. She said she doesn’t support the new legislation.
“By signing 1638, Gov. Inslee is taking away my right,” Sachs told KOIN 6 News. “Informed consent is a right that was granted to us — that we will not test on people or subject medicine on people against their will.”
Washington is among 17 states that allow some type of non-medical vaccine exemption for personal or philosophical beliefs. Medical and religious exemptions remain in place under the measure passed by the legislature last month. Both of those exemptions require certificates signed by a health care practitioner.
According to Gov. Inslee, this new legislation is a step toward stopping preventable diseases from spreading in the first place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report