Nonmedical vaccine exemption rate drops

For the first time in 15 years, the Oregon vaccination rate rose.

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For the first time in 15 years, the Oregon vaccination rate rose.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) touted the drop in nonmedical exemptions in a Senate education committee while discussing her latest school immunization bill, the Statesman Journal reports.

Before the data were in, she wanted to do away with one of the education options passed in 2013, the online video modules produced by the Oregon Health Authority. Her concern was that the videos would not be effective in informing parents of the risks and benefits of immunizations and the diseases they protect against. She said Thursday that in light of the new information, the videos should remain an option for parents who want to claim a nonmedical exemption.

Another part of the bill concerned schools’ reporting of nonmedical exemption rates. Steiner Hayward now is proposing to expand that requirement to a breakdown of the immunization rates by disease. The state counts children who aren’t up to date on one or more vaccines in its nonmedical exemption figures. In addition, in order to keep schools from incurring more expenses, Steiner Hayward said schools would be permitted to use any existing communication tool to report the immunization statistics. They could send the data out with a regular newsletter or a back-to-school communication, for example.

Steiner Hayward attended a Thursday forum about vaccines at Willamette University College of Law.

The lawmaker was joined by law professor Steve Green, pediatrician Dr. Jay Rosenbloom and Bob Reinhardt, the executive director of the Willamette Heritage Center.

The event was sponsored by the law school and the Statesman Journal.

From the SJ:

“We need to have enough of the population vaccinated so that we don’t have a resurgence of these diseases,” Rosenbloom said. “If we have a high enough percentage, we can eliminate the spread of disease.

“From a population perspective, we are really teetering on that under vaccination line, and we have started to see resurgence,” he added. “They are horrible and sometimes deadly.”

The summary of Steiner Hayward’s most recent vaccine bill — Senate Bill 895:

Requires schools and children’s facilities to make available certain information related to immunizations.

The full text can be found here.