COOS BAY – If you have qualms about flu shots or childhood vaccines, Dr. Jay Rosenbloom wants to meet you.
“It is my pleasure to actually talk to people who have questions,” said Rosenbloom, one of Oregon’s leading advocates for vaccines.
Rosenbloom, a Portland-area pediatrician, was a leading voice of Oregonians for Healthy Children, a coalition that lobbied successfully to tighten Oregon’s law on immunization exemptions for school-age children.
He will present a free educational session for the public from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Myrtle Room at Bay Area Hospital.
Until this year, Oregon parents could refuse immunizations for their school-age children by simply declaring an exemption. Oregon’s exemption rate soared in the past decade, as anti-vaccine websites and rumors spread exaggerated fears of potential side-effects. In 2012, Oregon had the nation’s highest rate of non-medical vaccine exemptions among kindergarten-age students.
At the urging of Rosenbloom and other health advocates, the Oregon Legislature this year passed Senate Bill 132. It requires parents requesting an exemption either to complete an online educational video or to obtain a signed form from a health care provider.
The goal is to educate parents about the risk of opting out, about vaccine-preventable diseases, and about community immunity.
“We don’t want to take away people’s right to choose,” Rosenbloom said. “It’s about parents making an informed decision.”
As a public speaker, Rosenbloom specializes in batting down misplaced fears about vaccines, many of which originate in misleading websites. For example, parents may fear the “one in a million” chance that a child will experience an allergic reaction to a measles vaccine. He urges parents to balance that risk against the far more dangerous risk of the disease itself.
Historically, about one in every 500 children who came down with measles died from the once-commonplace childhood disease, Rosenbloom said. Nowadays, thanks to widespread immunization, “We just don’t see it, thank goodness.”
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