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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?

      • That’s NOT how you get Hep B idiot!!!

      • Bill Michtom says:

        The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids. Infection around the time of birth or from contact with other people during childhood is the most frequent method by which hepatitis B is acquired in areas where the disease is common.

    • The fear campaign is working.

    • Mark, have you looked into how long the vaccines last before they need a booster? by the time a person might be doing those things, the hep B shot that they received as a newborn has worn off and they are in need of a booster. So what was the point of the one as a newborn if they are not exposed to the risks?

      • Bill Michtom says:

        The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids. Infection around the time of birth or from contact with other people during childhood is the most frequent method by which hepatitis B is acquired in areas where the disease is common.

  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.

    • Bill Michtom says:

      The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids. Infection around the time of birth or from contact with other people during childhood is the most frequent method by which hepatitis B is acquired in areas where the disease is common.

  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.

  11. I appreciate the unusual flavor of Ashland every time I manage to get through there without encountering tourists gaping at the local wildlife and wandering out in traffic, thinking that they are in Disneyland where the streets are fake. Ashland does little to disabuse visitors of this, decorating streets and public spaces in a way I had only seen at a Disney resort until moving here. There is a fantasy about Ashland, even to the fog that gives it a Brigadoon effect many mornings. People in Ashland habitually list their profession as ‘mystic’, ‘goddess’, natural master, liver of life eternal and good, and others. Yes, on state forms and official documentation. Yes, I personally read many of these.

    Ashland has a vested commercial image as being the weird counter balance to Portland, at the other end of I-5. Since their far smaller scale means concentrating the weirdness into a compact area, choices had to be made. Ashland operates on a principle that artsy hippie stuff is good for business, mass-market production is yucky.

    Need a recent example? Shakespeare activities – IN! Drive through conveniences for everyone who comes to the Shakespeare Festival – BANNED in town. WHY? Idling cars make too much pollution. Hippies hate pollution.

    No argument. Cars pollute, and hippies hate it. But I believe that there is another, less trendy, faddy explanation, completely valid, but completely contrary to Ashland’s desired status as “As weird as Portland, but we know your name” city of America. A practical, financial reason exists, but is far too mercenary, capitalistically driven and reeking of “CORPORATE STUFF” to be an acceptable argument in Ashland.

    Drive through fast food places suck off too many precious tourist dollars that are not being given to local food merchants. I have no problem with that municipal decision – to keep the local owners in a better position to supply tourists than corporate locations which will also employ locals – but send the profits elsewhere. I don’t recall this being any part of the discussion over drive-in facilities in Ashland. If it had been made as a selling point – it was not done with enough emphasis to cross my radar. No pics, didn’t happen.

    Well, now, Ashland, you are reaping exactly what you have sown. You wanted to be free thinking, independent, goddesses and special people. And that has brought down the forces of regulation, compliance and government forcing you to do things their way. Where will you go from here? Somehow, I can’t see all the Ashlanders standing at the town line with pitchforks, prepared to repel boarders, and frankly, Ashland – it’s put up or shut up time. Either stand your ground and tell the gubernmint revenoors where to stick their injections, or admit that, all along, you have been showering every night and rubbing on fresh dirt in the morning, just for the tourists.

    • Just to point out… nothing in this article suggests that the folks at the CDC did anything except listen to the community… which is not exactly “forcing (us) to do things their way”. I think they are curious as to the reasoning, but made no push to actually up the numbers…

  12. I work around Hep B all the time! Doesn’t concern me at all & I opted out of the vaccination. Wash your hands & wear gloves, no big deal.

  13. Winburn & Nutley says:

    Ashland creates it’s own antibodies through crystals and an overwhelming sense of entitlement and smugness. It’s an educated community but when everyone sits around in the same drum circle pretending to know everything about everything when actually they know a little about a lot of things, they convince themselves that they know better than those that know A LOT about specific things…like….let’s say….doctor’s…or even pediatricians.

    It’s a bunch of yippies and self-absorbed fart sniffers who tell themselves “I’m not dirty or gross and my children are special snowflakes of the universe and with a rich diet of organicy organic dandelion root and local organic barks, they will be strong enough to survive my uninformed self-delusional parenting that really just reflects my own arrogance and ignorance. I could give a rip about his classmates or community of immune-compromised individuals. I’m flippin’ special! Hey everyone look how earthy and organicy and great I am!”

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 […]

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