Leaders in the health community are celebrating a big victory. Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill making it tougher for parents to bypass immunization for their children.
According to the State Department of Health, Washington has one of the highest rates of parents who don't get their kids immunized.
But on Tuesday Governor Gregoire 'okayed' a bill which requires parents to do a lot more than just sign a slip opting out of school vaccinations for their kids. Now they must prove they've talked to a doctor about the benefits and risks of saying no to immunization.
Dr. Larry Jecha of the Benton Franklin Health District says people in the health community have been pushing for the change for a long time.
"Anyone could just quickly sign that they're exempt and a lot of times this was easier than to go get your child immunized," Jecha says. "It's not that they didn't believe in immunizations, it was just easier."
Jecha says the law will make sure parents get good, factual information from health care providers. It's also designed to push them to consider immunization as more of a need rather than a chore that can get pushed aside.
Washington's exemption rates have more than doubled over the last 10 years.