SALEM, OR -- Several Central Oregonians testified in Salem, Wednesday, on both sides of the childhood vaccination issue. A controversial bill, sponsored by State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend), would do away with non-medical exemptions for school and day-care. The Subcommittee on Human Services took testimony on HB 3063-A during a public hearing.
Bend mom Amanda Larkin urged lawmakers to vote against it. "The idea that the government thinks that they have any place to mandate toxic injections into our children’s bodies is scary." She asked that if lawmakers feel they have to approve HB 3063-A, that they consider proposed amendments creating some exceptions, "Specifically, exempting private schools. Our kid is at the Waldorf School of Bend and that school would be shut down if this passes."
Deschutes County Public Health Nurse Jill Johnson joined several other health care professionals in support of the bill. She told the subcommittee a recent measles exposure in Bend was scary for families and expensive for the agency, "Our staff spent 330 hours to do this investigation, which cost our local health department about $20,000." For Whooping Cough, Johnson said, it's an ongoing expense, "The cost for local public health to [investigate] one case of Pertussis and prevent further spread is about $2,200. And, we had about 140 cases in Deschutes County over the past ten years." She added, "Children should not have to suffer the effects of preventable disease when the current vaccine supply is the safest and most effective in U.S. history."
The bill is scheduled for a work session back in the full Joint Ways and Means Committee, Friday.