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Move To Limit Vaccine Exemptions Draws Opposition From Some Parents

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Opponents of mandatory vaccination testify to the state House Health Care Committee in Olympia Tuesday.

Legislative moves to limit school immunization exemptions are drawing vocal opposition from some parents. Opponents of mandatory vaccination crowded a public hearing at the state capitol in Olympia Tuesday, and the scene could repeat itself in Salem Wednesday.

A bill in the Washington Legislature would no longer allow schoolchildren to skip vaccinations on personal or philosophical grounds. Religious and medical exemptions would remain.

Meanwhile, some Oregon Senators propose to eliminate all non-medical exemptions.

Josh Swenson joined other parents from across Washington to voice opposition at a state House committee hearing .

"As an informed, educated parent three months away from my sixth college degree, I choose not to inject my children with 83 doses of toxins before kindergarten," Swenson said. "Please don't take away my rights."

State Rep. June Robinson said the remaining medical exemption should serve families who fear their children could suffer adverse reactions to vaccines.

As the legislation's prime sponsor, she said she's confident she has the votes to move her measure forward in the Washington Legislature later this week.

Robinson's measure has the support of the Washington State Medical Association and Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

The state representative says she was motivated to introduce her bill by a measles outbreak this winter that has sickened nearly 150 people across the U.S., including in Washington state and Oregon. No deaths have been reported.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.