Oregon Makes it More Difficult to Refuse Vaccination. And That’s a Good Thing.

Last week, the Oregon senate passed a bill that would make it more difficult for parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. This is a very good thing.

Of all the states in the country, Oregon has the worst vaccination rate. In the state, 6.4 percent of parents get a vaccine exemption, and that’s up from 5.8 percent last year. This number was less than two percent in 2001. Right now, state law requires that children be vaccinated to go to public and private school, as well as to use certified child care facilities. But parents can seek an exemption based on either a medical or religious concerns. Lots of Oregonian parents are choosing to forgo vaccinations because they erroneously believe that vaccines are dangerous.

For the uninitiated, this entire problem started back in 1998 with the publication of a study by Andrew Wakefield that purported to link the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study was, however, not just shoddy, but downright fraudulent. Studies conducted since Wakefield’s have found no link between vaccines and ASD, but that hasn’t kept the myth from growing roots in the minds of parents around the world.

This new bill targets the non-medical immunization exemptions. Parents who want a religious-based exemption would have to consult directly with a doctor or watch an educational video about the risks and benefits of vaccines. Then, if the parents choose to withhold the vaccinations from their children, they will have to provide proof of that of the educational consultation to schools and day cares before they enroll their child.

To be honest, I’m unconvinced that any amount of accurate education about immunizations will make a difference with the hardcore anti-vaccination crowd. But hopefully this will scoop up the parents who have been seduced by the unabashed fear-mongering and save some lives.

There is the predictable outrage coming from people who are oh-so concerned about the rights of the parents to raise their children. According to state senator Jeff Kruse, “I’m getting very tired of this legislative assembly and this body taking away the choices of parents as to how they raise their kids.”

I do understand the complaint. Here it is, the state, telling you, a parent, that you must inject some mysterious liquid into your precious baby. I empathize. Last year Congress held hearings on the increase in autism, and those long ago debunked myths came up. When a misinformation campaign gets that far, I understand how it could make parents a little skittish.

Here’s the thing, though. This isn’t about any one parent’s right to vaccinate or not vaccinate their child. This is about the right of the immunocompromised to live relatively healthy lives. This is about giving children a better chance of living to adulthood (which modern medicine has done a very good job at, by the way).

This is a public health issue. If you doubt that, all you need to do is look over the border to Washington state. Or Wisconsin. Or the United Kingdom. All of these places have had to deal with their own public health crises involving diseases that could have been prevented with vaccines. Anti-vaccine hysteria has even reached the developing world. Refusal to vaccinate based on specious evidence has caused over 100,000 preventable illnesses and over 1,000 preventable deaths.

As you can see, this goes way beyond what one parent decides to do with one child. If Oregon succeeds, it will protect us all.


Image credit: Flickr

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Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

Influenza vaccination first widely administered in the 1980’s. Mortality rates in the early 1930’s = 180/100k. By the 1960’s it was less than 5/100k. A reduction of over 90% in deaths. (Source: Doshi, P., Trend in Recorded Influenza Mortality: United States 1900-2004, American Journal of Public Health, May 2008, vol. 98, no. 5, p. 941.)

Pertussis vaccination begins in the UK in 1950. Death rate in 1850 was over 1,400/year. Death rate when vaccination began was under 50/year. A reduction in deaths by over 96%. (Source: Thomas McKeown, The Role of Medicine: Dream, Mirage or Nemesis?; Basil Blackwell; Oxford, UK; 1979; p.103)

BCG vaccine introduced in New Zealand in 1953, death rate from tuberculosis in 1880 = 1,400/mill. Death rate in 1953 was 100/mill. Reduction in deaths before vaccination of over 92%. (Source: Director General Annual Mortality Reports Covering 1872 – 1960, New Zealand Parliamentary Journals for the years specified)

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

@Martijn V. if you think it's just a "claim" then feel free to provide everyone here with the PMID of the study that refutes my statement, I think you'll then find it's a fact, not a claim.

As for the other research it has already been done, in almost all cases of disease the death rate was in decline long before vaccination ever began. Take a look at the death rates from Diptheria for example throughout the 20th century. The death rate fell the most in the first decade, between 1900 ~ 1910, Diptheria vaccination began in 1913. Take a look at the death rates from Measles in England (http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733835814) from 1940 ~ 1967, a drop of over 90%, vaccination began in 1968. What was the death rate from chicken pox in 1900, in 1920, in 1940, in 1960, in 1980 and in 2000? Chickenpox vaccination began in 1995 (and in the UK isn't recommended as part of the infant schedule anyway). Was the decline in death rates tapering off in any of these cases or reverting? No, so how can vaccination be given credit when it had no effect on these things you speak of?

Pertussis vaccine introduced USA 1948. Pertussis mortality rates in 1918 = 16/100k, pertussis mortality rates in 1948 = 1.5/100k, a reduction of over 90%. (Source: Vital Statistics of the United States 1937-1960; and Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1980 Part 1 Ch. B Vital Statistics and Health and Medical Care, pp. 44-86H

Influenza vaccination

Martijn V.
Martijn V.1 years ago

@Brian H: Despite your claim that the link between vaccinations and autism have never been debunked, you should put some research into the link between these diseases and disfigurement, crippling handicaps and death. Because there's a bit more correlation for the latter than for the former.

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

By the way, Immunize.org is funded by the CDC. The CDC is in charge of vaccine uptake. Why not just link people directly to Merck's website, or GSK's website?

Like this - http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/m/mmr_ii/mmr_ii_pi.pdf

"Death from various, and in some cases unknown, causes has been reported rarely following
vaccination with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines; however, a causal relationship has not been established in healthy individuals"

Hmm, you'd think that doctors would verify their patients, especially little ones, were healthy before getting vaccinated based on this info. Yet when you talk to parents of vaccine-damaged children (notice your link doesn't seem to think full disclosure is necessary and thinks it's okay to show parents pictures of kids with diseases but not kids who have been permanently damaged by vaccines) that's one thing they all note, not once did their doctor ask them if their child was healthy. Who is the professional here? The parents or the doctor? SHouldn't the doctor know to ask about the child's medical history before gleefully administering MMR for example?

All parents of vaccine damaged children were pro-vaccine before their lives were permanently altered.

Now, if you wouldn't mind, how about that VAX/UNVAX ASD study?

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

By the way Frank H., here is the UK's public health website page on measles cases and reported deaths - http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733835814

As you can see the # of deaths from measles between 1940 to 1967 had dropped by over 90%. If you look at the # of deaths from measles between 1867 to 1967 the number had dropped by over 99%. Measles vaccine was first administered in 1968. Can you please explain how you credit the vaccine for saving millions of children's lives when the mortality rate was in decline LONG before vaccination began thanks to changes in sanitation and living conditions? In other words, if you want death rates from diseases like measles to rise again, you'll have to convince everyone to stop washing their hands, to stop using treated water, to forego flushing toilets and put their sewage out in the middle of the cobblestone road, to forget everything we now know about sanitation and food handling.

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

Hi Frank H.
I'm looking at your two posts and I've visited the links you've posted and I'm failing to see a single study anywhere that compares rates of ASD in fully vaccinated vs. fully unvaccinated children. Perhaps you can just give me the PubMedID so I can look it up on the NIH's website?

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline1 years ago

For all you people, from the James Randi site:

basic info pages:
http://immunizationinfo.org/ and this: http://www.immunize.org/




Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline1 years ago

@ Brian H: Actually yes, the link between autism and vaccines has debunked. Sorry to burst your bubble. In fact Wakefield wasn't knocking all vaccines, he and his team had massive intersts in another vaccine company and wanted to vaccines to be many more.

However, from this study:


Seems that nothing but death of children, almost totally preventable deaths btw, will change the closed mind of the anti-vaxer

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

What this article doesn't bother telling you is that the link between vaccines and autism has never been debunked. There has never been a single controlled study comparing rates of ASD in fully unvaccinated vs. fully vaccinated children. Before anyone attempts to rebut this they should grab a dictionary and look up the word "fully".

Brian H.
Brian H.1 years ago

Frank H., during Wakefield's 1998 press conference he recommended parents opt for the single measles vaccine that was on the NHS schedule and licensed at the time. Unless some studies have demonstrated that Andrew Wakefield was psychic, how was he going to make substantial amounts of money by recommending the monovalent measles vaccine that was already on the schedule? It was over 6 months after the press conference that the NHS pulled the license on that vaccine at the request of GlaxoSmithKline who wanted their MMR program to be the only option.