Oregon’s progress on vaccinating younger children against preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough was short-lived.
In 2015, the first year the state required parents to at least pretend to be interested in learning about vaccines before they claimed a nonmedical exemption for their children by watching a 10-minute video, the rate of such exemptions among kids of kindergarten age dropped by 7 percent to 5.8 percent.
That was still well above the 1 percent figure in 2000, but at least the trend was positive.
Unlike vaccines themselves, however, the beneficial effect of the new law didn’t persist.
In 2016 the rate of nonmedical exemptions for kindergartners rose to 6.2 percent, and it went up again, to 6.5 percent, in 2017. This year, the state announced recently, the rate has surpassed the rate before the law took effect, rising to 7.5 percent.
To be clear, we’re dealing here with children who have no medical reason, such as a compromised immune system, to avoid vaccines. Their parents are choosing to ignore the advice of doctors, who, almost without exception, recommend children who have no medical issues receive the full slate of vaccinations. The logic is impeccable — the evidence proving vaccines are safe and effective, with exceedingly rare exceptions, is overwhelming.
The situation is somewhat better, generally speaking, in Baker schools. The percentage of students who have had all recommended vaccines ranges from 97 percent at Baker High School to 77 percent at Keating. South Baker’s rate is 96 percent, Haines is at 94 percent, and Brooklyn and Baker Middle School both 93 percent.
Still, the kindergarten trend is worrisome. As we’ve written before, we urge the Oregon Legislature to do what it failed to do a few years ago, and pass a law ending the vaccine exemption for students based on reasons other than medical necessity.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.