PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage of kindergartners skipping vaccinations for nonmedical reasons in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the 2017-18 school year, Oregon's rate of nonmedical exemptions was 7.5 percent vs. a U.S. median of 2 percent.
The Oregon Health Authority monitors exemption rates and makes the data available to local public health officials, schools, day care facilities and parents, said Stacy de Assis Matthews, immunization school law coordinator with the Oregon Immunization Program. The state aims for at least 95 percent of children to be immunized for community protection.
Feb. 20 is the deadline for parents to update their children’s immunization records. Children will not be able to attend school or child care if they are missing immunizations or they haven’t obtained an exemption.
The issue has taken on heightened urgency this year, given the recent measles outbreak, with four confirmed cases in Oregon and 50 in Clark County, Washington, de Assis Matthews said.
“This year’s immunization reminders are especially relevant because we’re seeing measles cases and immunizations are one of most effective ways to stop the spread of measles and keep kids and communities healthy and safe,” she said.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Mitch Greenlick is readying legislation to do away with the nonmedical exemption altogether. A similar effort failed four years ago, but the state did tighten the requirements for religious or philosophical exemptions.
The slideshow above reveals the schools with the highest nonmedical exemption rates.