Rep. Mark Hargrove introduces bill to eliminate flu shot mandate for foster families

Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, has introduced a bill to remove a new state mandate that requires foster families caring for children under two years of age to receive the flu shot as part of their licensing requirement.

House Bill 2108 states that the Department of Health and Human Services “may not deny a license to serve foster children for lacking proof of influenza immunizations for individuals living in the foster home.”

Hargrove was in discussions with officials from the Department of Social and Health Services about suspending the rule, but they could not come to an agreement on its suspension.

“It simply doesn’t make sense for the state to impose this new mandate at a time when we’re facing a growing shortage of foster parents. The flu shot is only 23 percent effective this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I’m wondering if the state truly believes that enforcing this mandate is worth the cost of seeing foster parents leave the system.”

The Seattle Times recently reported that dozens of foster parents will be forgoing their foster care licenses over the state’s new regulation.

“Whatever the reason people have for not getting the vaccination — cost, inconvenience or concerns about effectiveness — we are losing foster parents over this issue,” said Hargrove. “I’m not encouraging anyone to avoid getting a flu shot. My bill simply eliminates the state’s mandate, so we can make sure more children get into quality foster care homes sooner.”

HB 2108 has 14 cosponsors. It is has been referred to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov