Public weighs in on bill to ban nonmedical vaccine exemptions

Oregon has the highest rate of children who are legally exempt from school vaccination requirements in the country. (KATU file image.)

State lawmakers took public testimony Thursday about a hotly contested bill that would do away with nonmedical vaccine exemptions.

The hearing came as one group is trying to get even more people vaccinated amid a measles outbreak.

Opinions were strong and at times heated during the hearing on House Bill 3063 at the Oregon Capitol.

Adriana Candeloro has not vaccinated her fifth-grade son. She was one of thousands who submitted their opinions to the Committee on Health Care.

“Living in Oregon, I felt like our rights were respected and we were able to get him into public school in first grade with an exemption,” she said in an interview with KATU News.

But if the bill passes, she said her child will no longer be able to attend public school.

“Now there’s the potential that he won’t be able to go to school. I felt like this was a hasty decision,” she said.

On the other side, Dr. Kristina Haley with OHSU also submitted testimony. She said many of her patients who are immune-suppressed live in fear because of low vaccination rates.

“For most other children, it’s really important that they get vaccinated to protect themselves and the rest of their community,” she told KATU.

And she said the benefits of vaccines are too great not to get them.

“I’m familiar with that practice of balancing risks and benefits, and for vaccines there are risks as with anything we give, but the benefits are so high they outweigh those risks,” she said.

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