March 3, 2015

The Oregon Health Policy board met Tuesday to try to reduce the state’s vaccination exemption rate, which is the highest in the nation.

Over the last decade, Oregon’s vaccine exemption rate for kindergartners has risen to seven percent.

In some schools it’s as high as 70 percent.

Most of those exemptions are given because of a parent’s personal beliefs. Mississippi and West Virginia don’t allow that kind of exemption and more than 99 percent of their kids are vaccinated.

Oregon Health Sciences University president Joe Robertson sits on the Oregon Health Policy Board, and says something needs to be done. “The trends are alarming. When you’re not vaccinated, you are a clear and present danger to others,” he said. “These are potentially lethal diseases.”

There’s a bill in the legislature to end Oregon’s policy of allowing personal belief exemptions.

The Oregon Heath Authority’s new policy is that exemptions should only be allowed for medical reasons.