Oregon leads the nation in immunization exemptions

(Oregon Public Broadcasting) — Oregon now has the highest rate of immunization exemptions for kindergartners, according to the Oregon Pediatric Society.

Last year, Oregon ranked third in the nation, behind Washington and Vermont, for children exempted from getting required vaccinations.

But the number of Oregon kindergartners with non-medical exemptions increased to 6.4 percent this year, pushing the ranking to number 1.

Oregon Pediatric Society policy consultant, Anne Stone, says there are pockets around the state where the exemption rate is very worrisome.

"There are pre-schools that have 70 or 80 percent of their children that are not being immunized. So if one of these very contagious and dangerous diseases were to go into a community with that low a percentage of immunization, it could be real cause for concern."

Some parents decide not to vaccinate because of concerns about side effects.

The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill that would require residents to either watch an educational video, or talk to their physician before getting an exemption.

Washington's legislature passed a bill requiring families to get a physician to sign-off on exemptions. That dropped Washington's rate by 25 percent.

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