A new bill passed by the Oregon Senate will make it harder for parents to opt out of state-required immunizations for their children when they enter schools or group child care.
Under the terms of SB 132, parents must receive information about vaccines either from an online video or a doctor before they can opt out. Under the current law, parents can refuse immunization on religious grounds by simply signing a form.
The bill passed on a 16-13 vote and it will now head to the House.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward called the passage of the bill a good compromise.
"It is not an unreasonable imposition," Hayward said, who is also a family physician. "It is not a denial of religious liberty to require that people get accurate information so that they can make an informed choice for their children."
It has been reported that 6.4 percent of Oregon kindergartners were exempted from at least one vaccination this year based on religious grounds. That rate is the highest in the United States and it has been increasing steadily during the past ten years, The Register-Guard reported.
Unvaccinated children are exposed to dangerous diseases such as whooping cough, measles and chicken pox.
Some have speculated there is a link between childhood vaccines and the likelihood of a child developing autism. A study released earlier this year by researchers for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no link between vaccines and autism.
Some believe that the state simply should not mandate what parents do with their children.
“People said resoundingly they want the right to make their own [health care] decision, and that’s what we should be doing here,” said Sen. Fred Girod.