On April 24, the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services held a public hearing and work session on House Bill 3063A, a bill to increase immunization rates in Oregon. After an emotional hearing, where stakeholders on all sides of the issue came forward to share their testimony, the measure advanced out of the Subcommittee on 5-3 vote and will now move on to the full Ways and Means Committee. The Chief Sponsors of the bill include Representatives Greenlick, Helt, Mitchell, Schouten, and Wilde and Senator Thomsen.
Current law requires, as a condition to attend schools or children’s facilities in Oregon through grade 12, that each child be vaccinated against 11 vaccine-preventable diseases. These include: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), hepatitis A and B, and varicella (chickenpox).
HB 3063A was brought to the Legislature in response to the recent measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington and the subsequent Oregon cases.
Under the bill, a child attending schools or children’s facilities must either complete the required immunizations or the child’s parent/guardian must work with a health care provider and submit a medical exemption. The bill would remove the existing exemption for a religious or philosophical belief. The amendments adopted by the Subcommittee will allow a child who is not immunized and has not provided documentation of a medical diagnosis exemption to continue to attend school until August 1, 2020. The adopted amendments will also streamline the process by which a medical exemption can be filed and will remove the local public health review of these medical exemptions. Finally, the adopted amendments create a reporting requirement for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to provide exemption documents filed by licensed practitioners on a monthly basis to the Board of Naturopathic Medicine, the Oregon Medical Board, and the Oregon State Board of Nursing. These individual boards are then required to review these exemptions for reasonableness under requirements of the bill. These boards must then file annual reports.
The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Legislative Committee took a position in support of the bill with several dissenting votes. AOC Legislative Affairs Manager Andy Smith is closely monitoring the bill.
Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate