Oregon has one of the highest rates of vaccine exemptions among kindergarteners in the country, surpassed only by Utah and Idaho. Pediatrician Ryan Hassan, who also serves as the medical director for Boost Oregon, a parent-led nonprofit dedicated to promoting vaccinations through education, has noticed a growing number of parents questioning the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. This skepticism is not limited to COVID-19 vaccines but extends to long-established vaccines as well.
Hassan attributes the rise in vaccine skepticism to the spread of disinformation on mainstream and social media. He believes that the anti-vaccine industry is highly profitable and that some individuals profit from selling the idea that vaccines are harmful. Although there are safe alternatives to vaccines, these alternatives are not as tightly regulated, allowing for the promotion and sale of products that have not been well-studied or proven to be effective.
In his clinical practice, Hassan encourages parents to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and get their children vaccinated. However, he also acknowledges that there are valid reasons for mistrusting the government and the healthcare industry. While he personally trusts the dedicated scientists and civil servants working to protect public health, he understands that negative experiences can impact people’s trust in the system.
Hassan believes that policymakers in Oregon can make changes to state law to increase childhood vaccination rates. He points to California as an example of a state that successfully addressed low vaccination rates by eliminating nonmedical exemptions for vaccinations. In California, individuals must be vaccinated to attend public school, unless they have a legitimate medical reason not to.
Boost Oregon offers resources such as educational videos and information to promote informed decision-making about vaccinations based on scientific evidence. The organization also provides training and coaching for physicians on how to communicate with patients and parents about vaccinations.
As the Centers for Disease Control recently recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for all individuals aged 6 months and older, it is crucial for Oregon to prioritize vaccination efforts and ensure that vaccines are accessible to all residents in the coming weeks.
– Vaccine exemption: The act of being excused from receiving a vaccine for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons.
– Disinformation: False or misleading information deliberately spread to deceive or manipulate people.
– Civil liberties: The individual rights and freedoms protected by law.
– Indication: A medical condition or reason that makes a particular treatment or medication appropriate.
– Mistrust: Lack of confidence or belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
– Nonmedical exemption: The ability to refuse vaccines for reasons other than medical necessity.
– Original article by OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) by Kristian Foden-Vencil [Publication Date: November 18, 2021]