"I believe everything is contextual, and there's pros and cons on both side, so no vaccinations," says Ashland dad Brett Belan, who chose not immunize his kids. The words "I believe" fall under old laws allowing religious exemptions to vaccinations. They define religion as "any system of beliefs, practices, or ethical values."
But all of that will soon change. "In Oregon it's been very easy for folks to opt out," says Jackson County Medical Director Jim Shames. He tells us Oregon is implementing new laws this March, completely removing language referencing religious exemptions.
Some lawmakers are outraged. Republican Senator Fred Girod commented, "Not only are we stomping on First Amendment rights, the freedom of religion, we are actually stomping on a right of a person to dictate their own health care... We are elevating doctors to gods."
But Shames tells us it's all in an effort by the State to educate parents. "We were hoping people would be able to get some objective information and than make an informed decision," says Shames.
Parents currently do not need to have any formal education to choose to not have their children vaccinated... now they would need to go online to get a certificate proving they watched an online educational video.
And if a parent chose not to do that, they would need a signature from a traditional healthcare provider.
"They've done it in Washington state with excellent results and their immunization rate has gone up," comments Shames.
Belan says he's okay with the new hurdles, "i think that's fair, at least your not forcing a person to vaccinate." Though he's skeptical march's new law will change the way he feels about vaccinations.
"It's no for sure thing either way, welcome to earth," laughs Belan.
If you have a religious reason for not wanting your children vaccinated-- Shames says you still can opt-out... but you still have to follow the new steps.