Wash. children still catching up on routine shots

About 9 in 10 school-aged children are fully immunized, but that still leaves the state’s schools short of an important threshold to prevent illness. 

Media Contact: Barbara Clements, 253-740-5043, bac60@uw.edu

Families of school-age kids in Washington state are gaining ground, but still are slightly below an ideal level of immunization, according to family medicine physician Dr. Kimberly Collins.   

The state Department of Health’s most recent data, from the 2022-23 school year, shows that 90.9% of K-12 students had received all required immunizations. Although that marks a return to pre-pandemic levels — a 13% drop was seen in 2021 — there’s still room for improvement, she said.  

“We actually need vaccination rates closer to 95% in order to prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles,” said Collins, who sees patients at UW Medicine’s Primary Care at Northgate clinic. “Back-to-school is a good time to think about making sure your kids are healthy. The big goal is making sure that we reduce the number of days of missed school, and the fall is a time when cough and cold season starts up.”  

Washington students are required to be immunized against the following diseases and viruses, six of which are addressed in the MMR and DTaP vaccines:  

  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)  
  • DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)  
  • Chickenpox  
  • Hepatitis B  
  • Polio  
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – required only until 5 years of age  
  • Pneumococcal disease – required only until 5 years of age  

Collins said routine immunizations can be given during the same appointment as a COVID-19 vaccination, and encourages parents to ask their children’s doctors about that.  

Download broadcast-ready soundbites on back-to-school wellness visits, as well as other immunizations not required for school but still helpful to reduce virus risk, such as the HPV vaccine.  

UW Medicine