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Seattle school board recommends state reviews COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students

Board members recommended that the Washington State Board of Health begin reviewing the COVID-19 vaccine for inclusion on the list of required immunizations.

SEATTLE — The Seattle Public Schools board of directors approved a resolution Wednesday that asks the Washington State Board of Health to review the COVID-19 vaccine for inclusion on the list of required immunizations for students prior to attending school. 

The resolution clarifies that the school board is only asking the Washington State Board of Health (BOH) to begin its review once the vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

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The vote, which was postponed from Oct. 13, comes just weeks after Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 was given emergency authorization by the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to a KING 5 News poll, 41% of Washingtonians strongly support the requirement and 20% somewhat support it. Meanwhile, the same poll shows 27% of Washingtonians strongly oppose the requirement while 9% somewhat oppose it.

Data on COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5-11 has yet to be released, as of Wednesday morning, but children ages 12-17 continue to lag behind other age groups who were able to get the vaccine sooner.

Still, about 57% of children ages 16 and 17 are considered fully vaccinated and about 50% of children ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated, as of Nov. 13, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).

Those numbers are expected to go up, and the DOH said prior to its approval that about 30% of children ages 5-11 throughout the state would initially get the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

Any decision on vaccine requirements for children attending school in Washington state is made by the BOH.

The DOH released a report on Oct. 29 covering the state’s COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, which are defined by either three or more probable or confirmed cases within a group or probable or confirmed cases in at least 10% of students and staff. The latest report shows that between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, there were 189 outbreaks across Washington’s K-12 schools. About 1,280 COVID-19 cases were associated with these outbreaks, and nearly 90% of those cases were among those ages 19 and under.