My name is Carissa Bonham.
I am a single mother of two active boys and I am self-employed. Both of my kids have medical reasons why they cannot receive any more vaccines than they already have. Despite their diagnosed medical conditions and medical histories indicating they should not receive any more vaccines, our pediatrician’s office confirmed today that they will be unable to write them a medical exemption if House Bill 3063 passes. In fact, NONE of the kids in their practice will be receiving a medical exemption because they cannot afford to risk their practice being targeted or shut down.
Where does this leave us?
My oldest child is “TAG designated” (TAG is a designation which stands for “talented and gifted” and means the child is in the top 3% of kids in his grade district-wide for math, reading and/or intellectual ability). While he is very bright – he tested in the top 1% for intellect among his peers – he has other unique learning challenges and his TAG plan specifically covers how to meet his unique learning needs. The plan specifically spells out needing time with intellectual peers and social/emotional supports which need to be met in a group setting. Online school is not an appropriate option for him.
My youngest child is extremely active, very social and scheduled to start kindergarten next year. At his end-of-year, kindergarten readiness conference, his teacher said she thinks he will succeed because he is set to attend a school with lots of active, involved, hands-on learning. She said a learning environment where he would be forced to sit still in a desk all day would not be appropriate for him. Online school is not an appropriate option for him either.
Does the state expect me to stop working to become the full-time, hands-on educator of my children? How will we pay our bills if I am not working or only working a few hours a week? If my income drops, will all three of us find ourselves on Oregon Health Plan and qualifying for SNAP benefits? Instead of paying taxes on my business, income and property, if this bill passes we stand to become a financial drain on the state if we need to access public assistance programs just to stay afloat.
While some are cheering that the anti-vax crowd is getting their due with this bill, my family is being left behind. We are not anti-vax. We stopped vaccinating for medical reasons. And 3063 stands to make us financially insecure, disrupt my children’s education, and cause us to cost the state money instead contributing toward it in a positive way as a working mom.
This bill is poorly thought through and voting on it without completing a comprehensive impact study is careless.