Health officer: Lots of misinformation about vaccines

Clark County offers free vaccinations, as parents get their kids ready to go back to school

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN 6) — As parents get their kids ready to go back to school, Clark County is offering free vaccinations.

All vaccines required for school are free, but parents should call a health care provider to make an appointment.

The state of Washington’s 4.4% vaccine exemption rate is one of the highest in the country, and in Clark County, the vaccine exemption rate is 6.3%.

“High exemption rates are concerning because they increase the risk of disease in schools and day care,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer in a statement.

Oregon had the highest non-medical vaccine exemption rate for kindergartners in the United States for the 2013-2014 academic year. Currently, 6.4% of kindergartners have not been vaccinated.

View exemption rates by county in Oregon

“It’s certainly a concern to us. We like to focus on the fact that most parents are doing it,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis.

A vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella (KOIN 6 News, file)
A vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella (KOIN 6 News, file)

Lewis said he feels the reason for the high exemption rate is due to a plethora of misinformation about vaccines.

“I think the two biggest ones is that mercury in vaccines is dangerous and that’s been completely disproven on multiple continents,” he said. “And then the measles-autism thing is a complete lie.”

A new law in Oregon now requires parents who want to claim a non-medical vaccine exemption to receive specific educations about the benefits and risks.

“This year, we’ll be asking to either have their doctors have a discussion with them or to watch an online module about vaccine information,” said Lewis.

Learn more about non-medical vaccine exemptions in Oregon 

One mother told KOIN 6 news that she struggled with the decision on whether to vaccinate her son, Liam, but she said she ultimately had him vaccinated.

However, parent Shaya Mooney said she worried about the possible effects or long-term impacts on her children.

“I’ve made the decision not to vaccinate because I don’t feel that they’re safe, honestly,” Mooney said.

Lewis insisted that the vaccines are safe.

“Again, we know a great deal about the safety of all these vaccines. Any medical intervention has side effects. With vaccines, they are largely limited to having a sore arm where the needle went in. Serious side effects are extraordinarily rare and far less common than the consequences of getting the disease,” said Lewis.

A number of clinics in Clark County are offering free vaccinations, and parents should bring immunization records with them. These clinics are:

Free Clinic of SW Washington, 4100 Plomondon Street, Vancouver
Walk-in, uninsured children only, on August 20 from 5-7 p.m., and on August 27 from 1-7 p.m. For more details, call 360.313.1390

Sea Mar Community Health Centers, 7140 E. Delaware Lane, Vancouver
Call 360.566.4410 for an appointment on Aug. 13 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Battle Ground High School, 400 W. Main Street
Call 360.566.4410 for an appointment on Friday, Aug. 22 from 3 – 5:45 p.m

Lacamas Medical Group, 3240 N.E. 3rd Ave, Camas
Walk-ins accepted for students in grades 1-12 on Tuesday, Aug. 12 from 2-6 p.m. For more information, call 360.838.2440

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