Please take my three-question survey about the vaccine bill

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April 4, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Each session we see bills that not only attract much attention but also elicit emotional responses from people on all sides of an issue. A good example this year is House Bill 1638, which has provoked strong feelings and passionate stances because it involves both the health of children and the rights of parents.

In Washington, children attending school or a licensed day care center are required to have proof of full or ongoing immunization. Exemptions are allowed when immunizations are not advised for medical reasons or are contrary to religious beliefs, and also if a parent has a “philosophical or personal” objection to the immunization. HB 1638 would continue the religious exemption in law but end the philosophical or personal exemption specifically for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. It was introduced after a measles outbreak in Clark County in southwestern Washington earlier this year. Measles is very contagious, and Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in all counties in response.

When the bill received a public hearing, both in the House and the Senate, the rooms were filled with people wanting to testify. The bill’s supporters say outbreaks of contagious diseases threaten the health of unvaccinated children and those who can’t get vaccinated. They note the Clark County outbreak is diverting needed health care and community resources, and the health of people who have compromised immunity systems depends on the rest of the population being immunized. This is known as “herd immunity.” They mentioned that states with tighter exemptions to the vaccine have fewer infections.

Sen. Hawkins gives floor speech on presidential primary bill.

House Bill 1638, eliminating the option for parents to exempt their children from vaccinations for personal or philosophical reasons, was approved recently by the House of Representatives and a Senate committee. It could soon come before the full Senate and likely result in significant debate.

Bill opponents, many of whom have strongly held objections to mandatory vaccinations, say that injections can cause harm that outweighs the benefits associated with avoiding measles, mumps and rubella. They state that 10 to 15 percent of people can be negatively affected by vaccines. Some critics also claim the increase in the number of mandatory vaccines has caused an explosion of diseases, including food allergies and autism.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 5841, was introduced this year but not approved by the Senate. SB 5841 differs from HB 1638 in that the Senate proposal would remove the personal or philosophical exemption for all vaccines required for school, not just the MMR vaccine.  Washington is one of 17 states that allow some type of philosophical exemption for the vaccine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. House Bill 1638 was approved by the House 57-40 in early March and was recently passed by the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee.

Please take my three-question survey

Hearing from you is always important and helpful to me. With this bill possibly coming to the Senate floor for a vote in the coming days, I want to hear directly from you on this issue. My position is that while I am supportive of vaccines and always get my children vaccinated, I support preserving the current personal exemption in law. I don’t believe that the state should force parents to vaccinate their children. Having shared that, I am eager to receive and reflect upon your opinions on this significant legislation. Please click here to take my survey. Your answers will be anonymous.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000