A Brief Overview
- Free COVID vaccinations are available for adults and for children as young as six months.
- Washington State does not require students to be vaccinated against COVID to enroll for school in the 2022-23 academic year.
- Local school districts establish their own policies and procedures for health and safety and illness response.
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Over a million Americans have died of COVID, and transmission rates in Washington State remain high as we head into the 2022-23 school year.
Individual school districts decide what restrictions and policies to put in place for students, teachers, and staff. Families can ask their school district for specific information about safety measures and what to do if a student is ill or exposed to someone who is ill or testing positive for COVID.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI, provides guidance and suggestions for school staff and families on its COVID-19 Resources Page.
Whether to vaccinate your children remains a personal choice. The Washington State Board of Health has the authority to require COVID-19 immunization for children in K-12 schools but has not done that, as of Summer 2022.
Although not responsible for deciding whether to require vaccines, the state’s Department of Health, DOH.wa.gov, is a place to get current information and recommendations.
What protections against COVID are there for children and teens?
The federal government is providing COVID-19 vaccines free of charge to everyone living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
Free vaccinations are available to people 6 months and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, has approved the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations for toddlers, children, and teens.
Here are three ways to find out how and where to get vaccinated for free:
- Search vaccines.gov
- Text your ZIP code to 438829
- Call 1-800-232-0233
Children and teens ages 5 through 17 are advised to get a third “booster” dose of the vaccine if they have moderate or severe difficulties with their immune system.
All employees in educational settings are required to be fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption. OSPI provides more information about that requirement in a document that includes Frequently Asked Questions.
The Washington Department of Health has created Requirements and Guidance for minimizing transmission of COVID in schools and childcare settings, including isolation of anyone who shows symptoms of COVID.
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