Washington State Moves to Tighten Vaccine Exemptions

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine on a countertop at a pediatrics clinic in Greenbrae, Calif.

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine on a countertop at a pediatrics clinic in Greenbrae, Calif. AP Photo


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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Former foster children push for a "bill of rights" about maintaining sibling relationships ... A lawsuit over the Colorado River protection plan ... Connecticut lawmakers could require diaper changing table parity in public restrooms.

Lawmakers in Washington state’s Senate narrowly agreed this week to get rid of the philosophical exemption that allows parents to not vaccinate their children and still send them to schools and daycares. But these new rules will only be in place for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, the Seattle Times reported. A Washington county has been the epicenter of one of the large measles outbreaks this year, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced had climbed to 555 cases in 20 states. “My community is under threat. A vote against this bill is a vote against public health,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, a Democrat from Vancouver, who represents the area where there were 73 measles cases earlier this year. The proposed change, which is expected to be approved by the House (which has already passed a version of the legislation) and sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, does not touch the state’s religious or medical exemptions. Anti-vaccine groups, which have promoted false information about the side effects of vaccines, lobbied intensely against the bill, the Washington Post reported. No Senate Republicans voted for the measure, which was considered Wednesday night. Sen. Steve O'Ban, a Republican from University Place, said the issue is about parental rights. "We are going to mandate and require that parents who have exercised a choice not to have their children undergo an invasive procedure must now do so," he said. Washington is one of 17 states that allows parents to refuse or delay vaccinations for their children for a personal of philosophical reason, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Clark County, which has been dealing with the measles outbreak for months, hasn’t identified a new case since March 18, the Associated Press reported. [Seattle Times; Washington Post; Associated Press]

SIBLING RIGHTS | Former foster children are lobbying the Colorado legislature to approve a “bill of rights” that would require state caseworkers and foster parents to help children in the system keep in touch with their brothers and sisters if in different placements. Of the 2,500 children with siblings in foster care in March, 586 were not placed with them. “Separating siblings shouldn’t happen. They are our support systems. They drive us to be better,” said 23-year-old Davion Bugarin, who was split from his two sisters while in foster care. [Colorado Sun]

COLORADO RIVER | Congress recently finalized a plan for how to protect the Colorado River, which was signed this week by President Trump. But now one California irrigation district has sued a Los Angeles water utility over details of the drought protection plan, which could delay implementation. [Associated Press]

DIAPER PARITY | Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would require publicly accessible buildings that are newly built to have diaper changing stations in bathrooms used by both men and women. "We as men also have a responsibility to change the diapers of our children,'' said Sen. Dennis Bradley, a Democrat from Bridgeport. [Hartford Courant]

MASTODON BONES | Contractors working to install sewer lines on a farm in Seymour, Indiana found the huge remains of a mastodon. The bones included most of a tusk, part of a jawbone, two leg bones and piece of skull. “The weight of them is unbelievable,” said property owner Joe Schepman. [The Tribune]

Laura Maggi is the Managing Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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