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Northwest Lawmakers Debate Vaccine Exemptions

Should it be it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children?
CDC
Should it be it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children?

Northwest lawmakers are considering whether to make it harder for parents to opt out of immunizing their children.

In Oregon Monday, opponents of a bill that would remove all non-medical exemptions rallied on the steps of the state capitol.

Some at the rally said they weren't opposed to vaccines, per se. What they really resent is the idea that the state would require most parents to vaccinate their children in order to attend school.

Noelle Caro of Medford said she doesn't want the government involved in her family's medical decisions.

"We have a healthy child and we're not worried about anything,” she said. “We feel like the risk far outweighs the benefit of it. So that's why we made our choice."

Families can opt out by watching a video or talking to a doctor and signing a form. But some lawmakers want to limit exemptions to those approved by a doctor.

The bill is currently in committee. A sponsor says it's not clear whether there are enough votes for it to move forward.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.