End to Childhood Vaccine Exemptions Passes House, Senate Likely to Approve

Oregon’s House of Representatives  passed a bill Monday that would end philosophical and religious exemptions for state mandated vaccines. The bill now heads to the Senate, and most political observers believe it will pass there, as well.

Governor Kate Brown sounded optimistic, when recently asked about the prospects for the legislation, saying, “I will be signing that bill.”

“We owe our children the ability to survive,” said state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, one of the bill’s chief sponsors. “That means we need to be able to ensure as many as possible are vaccinated.”

House Bill 3063 passed 35-25. Two Republicans broke ranks to vote yes, and five Democrats opposed the bill. If the bill does become law, Oregon would be one of four states nationwide that do not allow parents philosophical or religious vaccine exemptions.

Currently, 7.5 percent of Oregon’s kindergartners are subject to these exemptions, more than any other state nationwide. If HB 3063 becomes law, parents would need to receive a medical exemption or vaccinate their children by August of 2020 in order to enroll them in schools statewide.

Medical exemptions currently require state approval, however this bill would permit physicians to directly provide exemptions. Naturopathic physicians, however, would not be permitted to issue the exemptions.

93 percent of physicians agree with the current vaccine guidelines according to The National Institute of Health. Also, a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found 86 percent of scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science think childhood vaccinations should be mandatory.