House Bill 3063 passed the Oregon House Monday, on a largely party-line vote. It now faces action in the Senate, where again it will face opposition from Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and others.
The bill and what it accomplishes should be seen not as a wedge between a family and a physician but as a measure that protects all of Oregon’s youngest children. In other words, it’s not a matter of individual rights but one of public safety.
The individual rights arguments are a tangle of misinformation about vaccines, from the allegation they cause autism — they do not — to the one that says they’re full of toxic chemicals. Not true. What is true is that scientists still study measles and vaccines against it so that more people may be safely vaccinated.
The public safety argument is clear.
This country is in the midst of the worst measles outbreak since 1994. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 750 cases have been reported since Jan. 1. The Northwest outbreak is over, for now, but outbreaks continue in New York and elsewhere.
Opponents to HB 3063 should note that the measure won’t force anyone to have a child vaccinated, though unvaccinated children without medical exemptions will have to attend online schools starting with the 2020-21 school year. That’s because measles, in particular, are easily spread. The virus remains active in a room for at least two hours after an infected person leaves, and if an infected person walks into a room with 10 unvaccinated ones, nine of the 10 are likely to come down with measles.
Deschutes County’s Knopp has opposed HB 3063 on personal freedom grounds. We hope that between today and the Senate vote on the bill he thinks that argument through. An unvaccinated child is a threat to those around him. The bill deserves his support.