SALEM, Ore. – A bill co-sponsored by Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, that would end Oregon’s non-medical vaccination exemptions for attending public schools advanced out of committee on Thursday.
House Bill 3063 passed out of the House Committee on Health Care, “will ensure immunocompromised students are kept safe from easily preventable communicable diseases,” Helt’s office said in a news release, which continues below:
Increasing rates of under vaccination in the Pacific Northwest have been spotlighted by the recent measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington, which led Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency. Measles can spread rapidly and about 90 percent of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will become infected.
“This was an important step in the journey to protect student health in our schools,” Helt said. “If passed by both chambers, this bill will save lives and will further guarantee the safety of our students.
“It’s time to replace the discredited idea that these vaccines are dangerous and ineffective with scientifically grounded, fact-based public policy,” she continued.
HB 3063 will now move to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. If it passes, it will be referred to the House floor for a vote.
Rep. Denyce Boles, R-Salem, also issued a news release on her committee vote against the bill:
Rep. Boles stands for individual medical choice and freedoms
SALEM, Oregon — Today Representative Denyc Boles stood for individual medical freedoms and to uphold constitutional rights and religious liberty in her committee vote on HB 3063. The bill’s passage will force all children to receive vaccinations decided by the Oregon Health Authority before they can enroll in Oregon’s public and private schools. Oregon has high vaccination rates, exceeding herd immunity thresholds, and this legislation goes too far into the rights of families and individuals to make sound medical decisions.
“We cannot run over the rights on which this country was founded in an effort to correct failed public health education and outreach efforts,” said Boles. “Our office received thousands of emails and hundreds of calls opposing HB 3063. Testimony presented by the medical community requiring mandatory vaccines for all families during hearings was mixed, with agency public health experts supporting it, and individual family practitioners, pediatricians, and parents pushing back on this sweeping legislation.”
Rep. Boles’ children are fully vaccinated. She believes in medical science’s ability to heal and eliminate disease. However, she has significant concern about this “one-size-fits all” mandate for both the vaccine itself and the vaccine schedule. Vaccines have been employed for decades, yet they still carry inherent risk to the individual, even though the population risk for contagious disease may decrease. While science has made strides in areas like oncology, where treatment is individualized to the patient’s genetic makeup, vaccines have not kept pace.
“This legislation sets a dangerous precedent. One where parents are coerced into medical procedures or risk losing the right for their child to receive an education. By passing this policy, government is choosing to follow fear over freedom, and it is an alarming precedent to set,” said Boles.
There appears to be an alarming trend in this legislative session. When goals aren’t achieved through reason and persuasion, the majority party reverts to coercion. Oregonians should be respected. Families should retain the right to make personal medical decisions and religious freedoms should be upheld.
Rep Denyc Boles represents over 67, 000 residents who reside in House District 19, which includes South Salem, Aumsville, and Turner communities within the Mid-Willamette Valley. She serves on the Rules, Health care, Business and Labor, and Capitol Culture Committees.