Crane: Parents should support HB3063, ending vaccination exemptions
Parents care about their children and want to keep them safe. For some parents, this has led to a misunderstanding or disregard of the science that demonstrates that vaccines are safe, prevent disease, and are an important tool that ensures Oregonians are safe and healthy. Science has proven that vaccines are one of the safest ways to protect our children's health as well as the health of our community and vulnerable people among us who are not able to be vaccinated (for example, infants). Vaccines are the standard of care-millions of people are vaccinated every year without serious consequences, beyond a sore arm or low fever. The benefits far outweigh any risk.
Unvaccinated children suffer needlessly from preventable disease. Since 2003, 249 (35%) of the 707 infants diagnosed with pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in Oregon have been hospitalized and five have died. One in twenty children who get measles, will also get pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
Oregonians value freedom of choice and we all deserve to feel save and healthy in our schools, childcare centers, faith communities and other places where we gather. CDC Director Robert Redfield stated "Measles is incredibly contagious. If an infected person enters a room of ten unvaccinated people nine of them will get measles". As Oregonians, we have the privilege of making informed healthcare decisions for ourselves and our families. The best way to make these choices is to consult with our healthcare providers and experts who have science-based facts about disease prevention.
The Gates Foundation supported a study that showed for every dollar spent on vaccine, there is a $44 economic return on investment.
Public health policy is focused on doing the most good for the most people. To achieve this, policy makers should look to the science, where the evidence is undeniable, vaccination saves lives, saves money and prevents needless suffering. The Oregon Public Health Association supports HB 3063, which eliminates the non-medical exemption for vaccination of children in Oregon. As public health professionals and parents ourselves, we've studied the issues and we conclude the public policy that protects the most people, especially the most vulnerable people among us, is to close the non-medical exemption. We urge Oregonians and policy makers to support this bill.
Beth Crane, EMPA, is the chairwoman of the Oregon Public Health Association's policy committee