The historically low rate of vaccination in Oregon and our region represents a frightening, yet preventable, public health challenge. We are witnessing the very real consequences of nonimmunization in the form of a measles outbreak in Clark and Multnomah counties -- an outbreak so severe that officials have declared it a public health emergency.
The safety and efficacy of vaccines for highly contagious diseases such as measles, polio and influenza have long been supported by research conducted by infectious disease and public health experts around the world, including at the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, where we are developing research and clinical programs to respond to infectious disease threats.
Individuals who decline vaccination for nonmedical reasons are endangering the health, and in some cases the lives, of our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the very young and the immunocompromised.
We believe that vaccines help ensure the health and well-being of not only ourselves, but our loved ones, neighbors and the greater community. Vaccination offers the best protection against numerous serious, and potentially deadly, infections and is, therefore, best for our collective public health.
We support the Legislature's efforts to address nonmedical exemptions at this critical time and look forward to working with them to ensure the health and well-being of all Oregonians.
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., OHSU President
This viewpoint was originally published in the Jan. 26 edition of The Oregonian. It was updated Feb. 8, 2019 to include additional information about legislative efforts and additional outbreak locations.