ASHLAND, Ore. — A new law will soon make it harder for parents to opt out of shots for their children. Now, the Ashland School District is hurrying to prepare.
The state law goes into effect this March, and essentially requires certification before parents can opt out of immunizations.
The law will require parents to get educated on the risks and benefits before the non-medical exemption is given. It’s similar to a law passed in Washington two years ago. That law reduced immunization opt-outs by a quarter.
Bjorg Smidt works in natural medicine. Of her three children, two are vaccinated, she says that’s mostly due to pressure from the family.
“By the time the third one came around, I was immune to the pressure. So, no more immunizations,” said Smidt.
A heavy decision that, for parents like Bjorg, is soon to get a bit heavier.
“What this law will require is that those folks go through an educational process so that they’re making informed decisions,” explained Samuel Bogdanove, Director of Student Services.
The educational process means either watching a state-approved video, or consulting with a doctor. In other words, get informed first, then make your choice.
“You know, we’re talking about very serious diseases that their children may be at risk for,” said Bogdanove. “We’re also talking about the potential, if there is a breakout, for a student who is non-immunized, to be at risk at school and to put others at risk.”
In order to prepare, the Ashland School Board will be discussing it in televised meetings. They’ve already shown simulations, made by the county public health department, showing the effects on an outbreak. District officials say they don’t want parents to be caught by surprise.
For Bjorg, her children are old enough that it won’t matter, but she is getting ready to be a grandmother. She says her stance hasn’t changed, but a bit of education can’t hurt.
Since the law goes into effect in March, it won’t have any impact on parents’ decisions this year. They will have to go through that education in order to opt out next school year.