|Many county students not vaccinated against preventable diseases posted on 05/01/2019|
The debate of whether or not to vaccinate, and the crisis
that accompanies it, has shot into Clackamas County.
County public health officials announced in mid-April that
despite vaccines being one of the safest and most effective health
interventions, the resulting preventable diseases are on the rise.
“For over fifty years, immunizations have saved more than a
billion lives and prevented countless illnesses and disabilities in the United
States,” said Dr. Sarah Present, Clackamas County Health Officer.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are
still a threat that continue to infect U.S. children, resulting in
hospitalizations and deaths every year.”
A Public Health Impact report released in April cited a
growing trend of delaying vaccinations, or exempting from them entirely, has
contributed to increases in vaccine-preventable outbreaks in the U.S. The
report also points to the lack of access to health care services being a
The vaccination coverage numbers in Clackamas County are
alarming. Of county kindergartners, 9.1 percent, or 397 total, have at least
one non-medical exemption, a figure that is higher than both the national and
state rates. Of K-12 students, 6.2 percent, or 3,820 total, have one or more
non-medical exemptions. County students K-12 have 3.4 percent, 2,124 total, who
are completely unvaccinated.
The U.S. is headed to surpass the record number of measles
since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. The total number of new
cases reached 626 in late April, the highest number in five years. Twenty-two
states have reported cases of measles, including Oregon.
The reasons for the decline in vaccinations are complex and
likely driven by a mix of scientific, socioeconomic, sociocultural and
political factors, according to county health officials.
“Vaccines are not just about individual choices,” said
Richard Swift, Director of Clackamas County’s Health, Housing and Human
Services Department. “They are about our connection and responsibility to
others. Declining vaccine coverage has introduced a number of harmful
infectious diseases back into our communities and is threatening lives.”
More information is available on the health division’s
website at www.clackamas.us/publichealth.
By Larry Berteau/MT