EUGENE, Ore. -- A new report shows Oregon is one of 12 states vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Officials with Lane County Public Health said they are not surprised to hear Oregon is on the list. They said there are now more than 160 cases of whooping cough in Lane County, impacting 40 schools.
KEZI spoke with Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health. He said Oregon has a very high non-medical exemption rate for vaccines. He said it's about 7 percent, compared to most states, which have a 1 to 2 percent rate.
"A small number of people may have a true severe allergy to a vaccine, and if that's the case, we certainly don't want to give that to them,” Dr. Luedtke said. “But the vast majority of people who choose to exempt, it's not for an allergy, it's for some philosophy or for some system they are following. And our state allows that to occur, and people take advantage of it."
He said the number of whooping cough cases in the county are slowing down. Luedtke said more people are getting vaccinated, especially children and teens who were not previously vaccinated before the recent outbreak.
He said for those who are still reluctant to get vaccinated, there are several resources in the county that are accessible and affordable for people to utilize.
"That includes the White Bird Clinic, the Volunteers and Medicine Clinic, the Community Health Centers of Lane County that has a sliding scale, you can be seen based on what you're able to pay,” Dr. Luedtke said. “We're lucky in this community to have these safety net clinics to help."
Dr. Luedtke said whooping coughing cases tend to peak in July and August. To prevent that peak from happening, Luedtke said the county is working closely with summer camps and schools.
To review the report, click HERE.