Washington lawmakers weigh vaccine exemption bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Amid a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 50 people in the Pacific Northwest, Washington lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would remove parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption to opt their school-age children out of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Hundreds of people opposed to the measure lined up more than an hour before the start of the hearing before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

The bill comes as health officials have reported at least 52 known cases in Washington state and four in Oregon. Currently, Washington allows school-vaccination exemptions for children at public or private schools or licensed day-care centers based on medical, religious and personal or philosophical beliefs.

The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill next Friday.