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More than 400 Washington foster parents object to flu shots

SEATTLE - More than 400 Washington foster parents are giving up on caring for children younger than 2 because they don't want to get a flu shot, which is required for the license to care for babies and toddlers.

Jamie Smith and her husband Brian took in a baby after he was born Christmas Day. A short time later, word came from the State's Department of Social and Health Services that everyone in the foster family must get a flu shot - including all children.

The couple agreed to getting a shot, but not for all of their children.

"Research that I have done suggests that it's just not as safe and effective as everybody is making it out to be," Jamie said.

As a result, the Smith's voluntarily surrendered their license.

DSHS says more than 400 foster parents have asked to change their licenses to only accept older children after a new rule was announced in January. State health officials say another 16 have suspended their licenses entirely.

That means about 8 percent of the 4,000 certified foster parents in the state will no longer be eligible to care for the about 1,000 children under 2 needing a foster parent.

State officials note, however, that many of the people changing their foster parent status do not accept the youngest children.

The Smith family has been allowed to keep their new baby. DSHS has told families if they have babies now, they can keep them as it would be too disruptive to move them.

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