CDC to Investigate Ashland, OR: Least Vaccinated City in US

Ashland, OR is least vaccinated city in USMore than one quarter of kindergartners in one school district and about two-thirds of students at two schools in Ashland, Oregon are not vaccinated.

Like many states, Oregonians can opt out of school required vaccinations by claiming religious exemption.  Statewide, 3.7 percent of kindergartners were exempt in 2007; however in Ashland, 28.1 percent of kindergartners were not vaccinated making it the least vaccinated city in the US.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wants to know why.

In some schools and districts, the numbers of unvaccinated children are higher.

For 2007, 66.7 percent of students at Willow Wind Community Learning Center were exempt, while 65.9 percent of Siskiyou School students and 45.7 percent of John Muir Elementary students had exemptions, the department’s reports show.

The statistics are slightly misleading though. When parents decide to pick and chose vaccinations, as well as follow a different vaccination schedules, they are consider exempt by the state.

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The CDC held a community meeting in Ashland to find out why parents were opting out of vaccinations.  Parents who attended the meeting were paid $50 to talk about their worries over the risks of childhood vaccines.  Ashland resident and parent Jennifer Margulis explains her concerns with required vaccines:

I never questioned the efficacy or intelligence of doing vaccines until I was in the hospital with my newborn daughter and a doctor tried to get me to give her hepatitis B vaccine.  Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted disease. I knew I didn’t have hepatitis B. I knew my husband didn’t have it. I knew there was no way she would come in contact with anyone with hepatitis B.

Other meetings will also be held in Birmingham, AL and Indianapolis, IN, but Ashland stands out with its “substantially higher” rates of unvaccinated children than the other two cities.

Ashland is a unique community of 20,000 people. Famous for its Shakespeare Festival and Lithia spring water, it is a liberal community in a conservative region.  Ashland promotes solar energy and is also home to Barefoot Motors, producers of an all-electric heavy duty ATV. It’s not surprising this unique community would have the highest rates of unvaccinated children entering school in the US.

Image: ElektraCute on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

Comments

  1. The sheer ignorance of some of these people is just astounding. So their newborn baby will NEVER come into contact with people with the hepatitis b virus in her life? Not when she’s a child at school? A teenager? An adult with (probably) more than one sexual partner? This vaccine has been around since 1991, according to the CDC. I had my daughter vaccinated when she was born and I never would want to risk her being exposed to diseases that could be easily prevented. She’s over six months now and is still developing normally. I don’t feel I took a gamble with the vaccines in regards to autism. Quite frankly I feel it would be a greater gamble to not have my daughter vaccinated against things like hepatitis b and whooping cough. These things kill children.

    • Mark,
      How long will that hep B vaccine last? Do you think your daughter will be having sex before she is five, or shooting up at 7?

  2. Mark, I think the concern, at least from my perspective, is the age at which children are administered these vaccines, as well as their ingredients. Why not vaccinate a child for Hep B when they are older and may come in contact with it. Why a baby that is half an hour old? Unless their parents are prostitutes and/or iv drug users, then they should be safe. It is transmitted through exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood. I wanted my children’s immune systems to develop naturally before I injected them with any vaccinations, especially for disease they were not at risk of contracting as an infant.

  3. That’s exactly it, Jennifer. A newborn baby does not even HAVE its own immune system yet. Even if a particular vaccine will be lifesaving for an older child, it just doesn’t make sense to administer it to a newborn. And even the ‘best’ vaccines are full of other ingredients, which an older child with a fully active immune system might be able to deal with. But a newborn? Not so much.

    What makes this particular vaccine startling is that as far as I know, it is the ONLY one routinely administered at birth — even though it’s not ‘useful’ until the child is much older. It should be telling that routine vaccinations for CHILDHOOD illnesses, which can be dangerous to infants, do not start until they are 3mo, 6mo, or 12mo, depending your local regulations and the specific needle. Even the CDC recognizes that some shots should not be given right at birth. So why one for an STD?

    Like many parents, we’ve decided to wait until our daughter is quite a bit older before giving her any vaccinations. Maybe we should move to Ashland? :)

  4. Another point about the hep B vaccine being administered at birth is that it wears off in about 7 years, which is before the child would (more than likely) being having sex or be an iv drug user. Doesn’t make sense to give it to them at that age.

  5. MamaWendy, I did know that it wore off so early. I have felt this way about the chicken pox vaccine, as it wears off in adulthood when it is more dangerous to contract it. My childhood measles/rubella vaccine had worn off by the time I was pregnant with my first child, which put her at risk, since it is most dangerous to the fetus to contract measles/rubella.

  6. Wow, so the researchers simply interviewed parents about their decision not to vac? They didn’t look for any differences in school attendance rates or Autism spectrum disorders or SIDS in the community? Too bad.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jennifer. I thought that the no-vac movement was related to the no-circ movement–an effort to reduce unnecessary procedures. I never considered how insulting and degrading certain vacs could be.

  7. Vaccines should be given to every person. I got it 13 years ago, it got cronical, and my liver is infected. I got infected by the dentist

  8. Perhaps someone could explain to me why Oregon, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, also has some of the highest rates of autism in the country? Not to mention that Ashland, the least vaccinated city in America, has higher rates of autism than any other city or town in its county.

  9. Vaccines are important for every human being to fight with disease. I think it’s useful if given at the proper time.

  10. The “intellectual angle”, perspective, and opinions anti-vaccination folk both astounded and disgust me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Oregon’s picturesque community of Ashland (which has recently garnered attention as the least immunized city in the nation), Barefoot Motors seeks to take advantage of the winds of change by providing farmers with the […]

  2. […] My 11-month old? Not a single stick. Not until he is at least 3 years old. We’ll be getting a religious exemption for school, that’s for sure. I know, I know! I’m going to poison your children with my […]

  3. […] I’m thrilled that not only are these nut butters produced in the United States and are in NO WAY related to any peanut butter recalls from PCA, but also that the MaraNatha Nut Butter Company facility is right here in Oregon (you may recall reading about Ashland and low vaccine rates on ECP). […]

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