Oregon vaccine exemption rates down 17%; new senate bill on vaccine policy unnecessary and overreaching

Oregon vaccine exemption rates down 17%; new senate bill on vaccine policy unnecessary and overreaching

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2015

PORTLAND—Oregonians for Medical Freedom, a coalition of over 3,000 educators, medical professionals, and parents, applaud the success of SB 132A; call the new bill SB 895, currently being considered by the Ways and Means Committee, an unnecessary bureaucratic policy.

On Friday, May 1, the Oregon Health Authority announced that Oregon vaccine exemption rates are down 17%.

Their press release went on to detail: “Public health officials believe the drop in the exemption rate is due to passage of Senate Bill 132A, which was signed into law on June 26, 2013, and went into effect on March 1, 2014. The legislation changes the process for claiming a nonmedical exemption to school and child care immunization requirements.”

SB 895 would make Oregon the first state to require schools to issue a vaccination rate report card to parents twice annually. It would require unprecedented disclosure by schools of vaccination behavior of each school’s students. Because current legislation is working, OFMF calls on lawmakers to oppose this new and unnecessary vaccine policy legislation.

SB 132A instituted an “interactive online educational video” requirement for parents requesting exemptions, created by the Oregon Immunization Program. After much time and expense, OHA released the video and implemented the SB 132A system on 3/1/14, just 13 months ago.

“It is unclear why the Oregon Legislature is still spending time and money considering vaccine policy legislation which would create an additional administrative burden on limited education funds, when SB132A is clearly doing exactly what it was designed to do,” said Bob Snee, Committee Director for Oregonians for Medical Freedom (OFMF). “We hope the Oregon Legislature will focus on legislation that deals with more pressing matters. Senate Bill 895 is not one of them.”

Oregon’s vaccination rates are already high. OFMF believes SB 895 would create a potential for confusion, confidentiality violations, and misunderstandings about private medical decisions.

“It is disingenuous to believe that releasing data in a ‘report card’ format won’t lead to inevitable snooping and shaming to try and determine ‘who isn’t vaccinating.’ The vaccine exemption forms in the school environment have no explicit privacy provisions and are often handled by multiple administrators,” added Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the committee.

“Senate Bill 132 is working for reasons experts on vaccine policy would understand completely. Vaccinations are a private and personal medical procedure every parent should discuss with their doctor,” said Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., a Portland-based pediatrician and Co-Chair of the Committee. “The most important relationship in the vaccination model is between a parent and their medical provider. What’s required to ensure vaccine compliance? Trust; plain and simple.”

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