WA State law allows for medical, philosophical, and religious exemptions from vaccination for school and daycare attendance.
NOTE: In the 2019 Legislative Session, EHB 1638 removed the personal-philosophical exemption to the MMR vaccine (the personal-philosophical exemption remains for all other vaccines). The medical and religious exemptions remain for the MMR, and this includes both personal-religious (no church membership required) and church-affiliation. ICWA has contacted the Department of Health about the design and content of the new exemption form and will be evolved in the development process. This page will be updated with the new exemption form once it becomes available.
Religious Exemptions Remain Unchanged. Please visit RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS CLARIFIED for more information.
You may be notified that in WA state certain vaccines are required for school or daycare attendance (see The WA State Department of Health (DOH) Vaccine Requirements.
It is important to know that per WA State Law, exemptions may be filed for any or all state-required vaccines.
“(1) Any child shall be exempt in whole or in part from the immunization measures required by RCW 28A.210.060 through 28A.210.170 upon the presentation of any one or more of the certifications required by this section, on a form prescribed by the department of health:(a) A written certification signed by a health care practitioner that a particular vaccine required by rule of the state board of health is, in his or her judgment, not advisable for the child: PROVIDED, That when it is determined that this particular vaccine is no longer contraindicated, the child will be required to have the vaccine;(b) A written certification signed by any parent or legal guardian of the child or any adult in loco parentis to the child that the religious beliefs of the signator are contrary to the required immunization measures; or(c) A written certification signed by any parent or legal guardian of the child or any adult in loco parentis to the child that the signator has either a philosophical or personal objection to the immunization of the child.(2)(a) The form presented on or after July 22, 2011, must include a statement to be signed by a health care practitioner stating that he or she provided the signator with information about the benefits and risks of immunization to the child. The form may be signed by a health care practitioner at any time prior to the enrollment of the child in a school or licensed day care. Photocopies of the signed form or a letter from the health care practitioner referencing the child’s name shall be accepted in lieu of the original form.(b) A health care practitioner who, in good faith, signs the statement provided for in (a) of this subsection is immune from civil liability for providing the signature.(c) Any parent or legal guardian of the child or any adult in loco parentis to the child who exempts the child due to religious beliefs pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section is not required to have the form provided for in (a) of this subsection signed by a health care practitioner if the parent or legal guardian demonstrates membership in a religious body or a church in which the religious beliefs or teachings of the church preclude a health care practitioner from providing medical treatment to the child.(3) For purposes of this section, “health care practitioner” means a physician licensed under chapter 18.71 or 18.57 RCW, a naturopath licensed under chapter 18.36A RCW, a physician assistant licensed under chapter 18.71A or 18.57A RCW, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter 18.79 RCW.”
If you choose to exempt your child from state-required vaccines for school or daycare attendance, you need to file a Certificate of Exemption with your school. The WA Certificate of Exemption contains a pre-written declaration to be signed by a qualified healthcare provider. As an alternative to signing the Certificate Form, a qualified healthcare provider may write a letter indicating that they have discussed the benefits and the risks of vaccines with the parent/legal guardian of the child. See examples of a Provider’s Letter.
The Certificate of Exemption Form
“Q: Which healthcare providers may sign the exemption form or write a letter?A: Only physicians (M.D.), physician assistants (P.A.), osteopaths (D.O.), naturopaths (N.D.), and advanced registered nurse practitioners (A.R.N.P.) licensed in Washington are authorized to sign the exemption form or write a letter. Signatures by registered nurses (R.N.) or licensed practical nurses (L.P.N.) are not acceptable. Military personnel who are WA state-licensed physicians, naturopaths, or advanced registered nurses can sign the exemption or write a letter, if it is within the scope of their official duties.”
“Q: How does a healthcare provider verify that they informed parents/guardians about the benefits and risks of vaccinationA: Healthcare providers sign the pre-written declaration on the exemption form. They can also write a letter that:
- Indicates they gave the parent information about the benefits and risks of immunization to the child.
- Contains the child’s name.
- Is signed and dated by the provider.”