Oregon sees increase in nonmedical exemptions to immunization for kindergarteners

    You can use the Oregon Health Authority tool to browse vaccination rates at schools and child care centers in Oregon.

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has seen an increase in the percentage of parents choosing nonmedical exemptions to vaccines for kindergarten-age children, the Oregon Health Authority says.

    "State law requires that children be immunized against diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis," according to the Oregon Health Authority. "The number of required vaccinations can vary depending on the child’s age or grade level and type of facility."

    Families can opt out of immunizations for medical reasons.

    But parents can also take a nonmedical exemption to vaccinations.

    Since 2015, Oregon law has required parents and guardians to take steps before claiming such an exemption.

    In the first year the law was in effect, the nonmedical exemption rate for kindergarten fell from 7 percent to 5.8 percent.

    However, rates have increased each year since: to 6.2 percent in 2016, 6.5 percent in 2017 and 7.5 percent in 2018.

    “While more nonmedical exemptions mean fewer children are being immunized, the vast majority of Oregon parents and guardians still choose to fully immunize their children,” said Stacy de Assis Matthews, immunization school law coordinator with the Oregon Immunization Program, based at the OHA Public Health Division. “Most parents and guardians know that immunization is still the best way to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles.”

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