In the middle of a measles outbreak that has claimed more than 50 patients in Pacific Northwest region, lawmakers in Washington are hearing about a new bill which will disallow parents to exempt their children from taking the vaccine which protects them from mumps measles and rubella. Several hundred parents and random citizens that are opposed to the bill are likely to throng the court premises where the hearing is being held before House Health Care and Wellness Committee. They are likely to be wearing stickers on their sleeves or collars with the number HB 1638 within a crossed circle.
Presently there are at least 52 cases of measles in Washington and four in Oregon, most of which are concentrated around Clark County that is close to Portland in Oregon. This bill was sponsored Republican Paul Harris and it has support of the state’s medical association as also of Governor Jay Inslee who declared a state of emergency last month due to the outbreak. The lawmaker stated that as responsible citizens all are concerned about immunity and safety and this measure provides immunity from the disease. The current school-vaccination programs offer exemptions to parents of children in public/private and day care centers on the basis of their religious and personal beliefs.
Unless an exemption is requested for by a parent/caregiver all children are vaccinated against diseases like polio, mumps, and whooping cough besides others during early childhood. This is taken as a measure to ensure that schools are safe and vulnerable children are protected. Opponents to the bill include environment activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who was not convinced about safety standards of the vaccination procedure and Susie Corgan who represents parents concerned about adverse reaction of their children to vaccines. Washington and Oregon are among 17 US states which offer exemption on non-medical grounds for vaccines based on personal and moral beliefs.