Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, went to Salem to be an advocate for kids. She’s living up to that goal with her sponsorship of House Bill 3063, a measure that would end both personal and philosophical exemptions from the state’s immunization requirements.
Helt joined forces with Sens. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, and Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, as chief co-sponsors of the measure, which eliminates all but medical exemptions from immunization requirements set by the state.
The move comes in the wake of a measles outbreak that has infected at least 66 people, mostly unvaccinated children, in the state of Washington and another four in Oregon, with an additional unconfirmed case reported over the weekend.
If anything, it’s overdue.
In Oregon, more than 7 percent of children entering kindergarten lack vaccines. That’s certainly due to a current state law that grants exemptions after parents take a brief online course on the dangers of leaving kids unvaccinated or get a doctor’s signature on a copy of the state’s vaccination certificate.
Measles, diphtheria and other childhood diseases can be killers, and vaccines help prevent those deaths. They’re most effective when enough of a population is vaccinated to largely prevent the spread of disease. That’s called herd immunity. In the case of measles, herd immunity is lost when 5 percent of a population goes unvaccinated. That means that in children in a number of Bend day care centers, preschools and public schools are in danger of getting measles the day they walk through the door.
Helt’s HB 3063, actually will ensure that more children are vaccinated. Pass it.