SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Critics blasted a decision by Oregon lawmakers who killed a bill to have more children vaccinated for measles and other preventive diseases in order to hand over a tax on large companies and say that it is in danger to public health.
Despite the fact that Parliament went and had the necessary votes in the Senate, the measure to make it harder for families to opt out of vaccinations was nixed as part of an agreement announced Monday to end a week-long Republican walkout over a multibillion school finance tax .
During the vaccination measure, sponsored by the State Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, children would only have been able to waive vaccine claims with a doctor's note, otherwise they would not be able to attend public school.
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, a democrat from Beaverton and the bill's sponsor, said the move is preventing the state from protecting its citizens from a public health crisis.
"This is not how I want our state to be known," she said. "This is a major public health issue and it is critical that we deal with it."
More than 70 people, including four from Oregon, were diagnosed as part of a month-long Pacific outbreak that public health officials have just declared.
"As the recent measles outbreak has been demonstrated, vaccine preventive diseases pose an increasing threat due to the relatively low immunization rate in the Northwest," said Robb Cowie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority, the state health agency.
Oregon has the highest degree of unvaccinated kindergartens in the country, with at least 7.5% of young children claiming an exception. In some schools, more than 40% of the children are unvaccinated through the state's salmon exemption process. This makes Oregon particularly susceptible to an outbreak, according to Diane Peterson, Association Director of Immunization Action Coalition, which receives funding from the CDC.
"Specifically, Oregon is a hotbed for a measles outbreak," said Peterson. "All you need is to introduce a person with the disease into society, and it will spread like a fire."
Oregon was one of a number of states that proposed to crack down on non-medical exemptions due to a national resurgence of measles, now the disease over 800 people this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state is one of 17 that allows families to deviate from required school vaccinations for personal, philosophical, or religious reasons. 19659005] Nearby Washington State this year passed a law to terminate all non-medical exemptions for the measles vaccine while Maine is working to remove its religious and personal exceptions for all vaccines. Some states, including Rhode Island, introduced measures to add exceptions.
The movement toward vaccination increased in the 1990s following a study allegedly linking the measles vaccine to the rise in autism. The study has since been discredited.
Mississippi, California and West Virginia are the only states that banned all non-medical exceptions. The Mississippi has the highest childhood vaccination rate in the country, while the California law passed in 2015 caused a significant increase in vaccination numbers.
The Republican and Democratic leaders remain close to why the vaccine issue was particularly aimed at part of the walkout agreement.
Steiner Hayward said she was not involved in the negotiations and that she personally received a call from Gov. Kate Brown told her that the vaccine bill wouldn't move forward this session.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick of Portland stressed that the trade-off was worth bringing the Republicans back to the Capitol and voting for an annual $ 1 billion increase in school funding. It was not, she said, an answer to the vitriolic resistance that the proposal has received from hundreds of parents against vaccinating their children.
"The people who opposed the bill just invented themselves objectionable about the building," Burdick said at a news conference on Monday. "And one of the things that disturbs me, I'm afraid some of them will feel that these tactics worked. These tactics had nothing to do with what happened."