A Legislative Death: Vaccine Exemptions

Today it was announced that they are altering their approach to increase the vaccination of Oregon children.

Rather than removing all the non-medical exemptions, a new proposal would

“…would allow parents to prove their child’s immunity from a vaccine-preventable disease and to use a vaccine catch-up schedule for those not in compliance with the state-mandated plan.”

The proposal has not been introduced, so the exact language is unknown, but the report says

“The parent of a child who has natural immunity from the chicken pox could prove that through a blood test and not have to claim an exemption from the varicella vaccine.

Parents who do want to claim a non-medical exemption would need to be educated on the risks of vaccine avoidance from their child’s primary care provider. The online video modules, produced by the Oregon Health Authority, would no longer be an option to satisfy the education requirement.

The policy would also require schools to make available their vaccine-exemption rates on their websites and report cards to prompt local public health conversations about vaccinations.”

Not a complete closure of the non-medical exemptions, but better than the current law.

Why have they dropped current amendment? Decreased support in the legislature from those who object to the amendment.

“Some of my colleagues changed their minds,” she said. “They got a lot of pressure one way or another. This is an issue that really mobilizes a very small minority of people, but it makes them very loud. I get that. That’s their right. But there were a bunch of people who weren’t prepared to take on this controversial of a topic at this point.”

Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, led the opposition said letting the bill die is the “right thing to do” in part as there doesn’t "seem to be an emergency."

Right. First have an outbreak where 1.2% of unvaccinated children die (as happened in Philadelphia in 1990) THEN, when there is an emergency, set up vaccination clinics at the cemetery.

There is on line petition for support of tightening vaccine exception that has over 1400 signatures. It is available here: https://www.change.org/p/eliminate-oregon-s-non-medical-vaccine-exemption. Please, sign the petition if you are an Oregonian. Even though the original amendment is dead, there is still the need to continue to improve vaccination rates in Oregon and to support the legislation that helps facilitate that goal.

Mark Crislip MD