Public Health impact report on vaccines

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Vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise

84 people in Washington and Oregon contracted measles in the first quarter of 2019. In an era when vaccine-preventable diseases seldom occur in the United States, this measles outbreak highlights the Portland metropolitan region’s vulnerability to infectious diseases.

There is a growing trend of delaying vaccinations, or exempting from them entirely, which has contributed to increases in vaccine-preventable outbreaks and mortality in the United States. Lack of access to health care services is also a significant issue.

Despite the drastic gains in vaccination coverage once children enter school, the national and statewide vaccination rates are still far below the recommended community immunity threshold of 95-100% to prevent infectious disease outbreaks and protect vulnerable groups.

Why is vaccination coverage declining?

The reasons for the decline in vaccination coverage are complex and likely driven by a mix of scientific, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and political factors, including:

  • Limited access to health care resources and vaccines
  • Knowledge about non-medical exemptions and opposition to vaccines
  • Lack of trust in vaccine safety, pharmaceutical companies and conventional health care systems
  • Misinformation about vaccines has increased skepticism about vaccine science and health risks.

Call to action

The recent measles outbreak in Washington and Oregon should be a dire warning that we need immediate and coordinated action so we do not experience a resurgence of highly contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases.

For long-term success, strategies need to be targeted to groups with limited access to health care resources and those who are obtaining non-medical exemptions. A vision for the future includes:

  • Improve access and education regarding vaccines
  • Partnerships between Clackamas County Public Health and Community Organizations
  • Increase Parent-to-Parent Education

If you would like to learn more or be involved in the call to action, please email

Resources and more information

For more information regarding immunizations, please contact your primary health provider or visit the Clackamas County Public Health immunization webpage.