Oregon seeks to tighten its vaccination ‘opt-out’ law

One of Idaho’s neighbors is a step closer to passing one of the most stringent vaccination laws in the nation.

The Oregon House Monday passed a bill to get rid of vaccination exemptions based on philosophical, religious and personal grounds. Idaho and Oregon have some of the nation’s highest vaccination opt-out rates — fueled largely by non-medical exemptions.

Monday’s vote came on the heels of a measles outbreak that affected more than 80 people in Oregon and Washington. Citing this outbreak, hospitals, public health agencies and medical groups backed the bill, the Oregonian reported.

Opponents say the bill strips parental rights. Opponents cheered and heckled during Monday’s debate, once drawing censure from House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, the Oregonian reported.

The 35-25 vote fell largely along party lines, with Democrats voting in support. The bill now goes to the Senate. Gov. Kate Brown has said she will sign the bill if it reaches her desk.

Oregon and Washington are both looking at bills to tighten vaccination laws — although Washington’s bill addresses only measles. Meanwhile, the Idaho House passed a bill requiring schools and day-care centers to inform parents of opt-out guidelines, at the same time parents receive state immunization guidelines. The bill stalled in the Senate, without a hearing.

Oregon’s kindergarten vaccination opt-out rate is 7.5 percent, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. This year, Idaho’s kindergarten vaccination opt-out rate reached 7.7 percent, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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