JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. -- Josephine County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. Over 400 students in the Grants Pass school district are not vaccinated, according to the district school nurse.
While schools are required to educate parents about the vaccination regulations here in Oregon, they can't make parents vaccinate their children. As long as an exemption is filed within the timeline, children can attend school without any vaccinations.
"It's concerning because they aren't immunized." says district nurse, Martha Covrig, "It increases their risk of getting those illnesses. Some of them have pretty serious consequences."
Some parents decide against vaccinations out of concern of possible side-effects. Another fear is that vaccinations increase the chances for autism, however that hasn't been proven.
"Autism has been in the news over a number of years but from my understanding and reading, there's not any medical research that has proven that," said Covrig.
In order to opt out of required vaccinations, parents must complete a training that explains the benefits and risks involved in the vaccinations. All exemptions must be filed by January 1st.
"We do encourage parents to immunize however we don’t you know if they choose not to it’s a personal choice like I said before and they have their options of how they can opt out," explains Covrig.