April 21, 2015
A proposal designed to enhance parents’ knowledge of vaccination rates in their children’s schools goes before a key legislative committee Tuesday.
The bill would require schools to publish the rate of exemptions from various required vaccines. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, said it would help parents with children too young or unable to get vaccinated determine if their schools have reached herd immunity status. Herd immunity means enough people have been vaccinated to prevent the disease from spreading.
Oregon has the highest rate of nonmedical exemptions for kindergartners in the nation.
Opponents argue posting the immunization rates could publicly shame or bully parents who decide against getting some or all of the recommended shots.
The Senate Committee on Education is scheduled to vote on the measure on the last day before a legislative deadline that determines whether it lives to make it to the next stage of the process.
This isn’t the first vaccine-related bill Steiner Hayward has pushed this session. The Beaverton physician proposed a bill removing all nonmedical exemptions for vaccines amid heated opposition from parents who said it trampled their rights. Steiner Hayward dropped that proposal, saying debate around the bill was too focused on the merits and credibility of vaccine science.
Similar attempts to reduce exemption rates have been proposed elsewhere after a measles outbreak that originated in Disneyland spread to several states across the country and Mexico.