Kudos to the Oregon Legislature for moving SB 132 on to Gov. John Kitzhaber, ensuring that parents who opt out of vaccinating their children first receive education regarding the risks and possible dangers. This bill passed despite Bend’s Rep. Jason Conger voting against the measure, stating that most of the diseases that schools require vaccinations for aren’t deadly, according to The Bulletin. You may have taken his statement out of context, but regardless, spreading such outrageous falsehoods is harmful to our community.

Contrary to Conger’s remarks, these preventable diseases have always been, and remain, potentially deadly. For example:

• Measles caused between 733,000 and 777,000 deaths worldwide in 2000 and is the fifth most common cause of death in children younger than 5. After aggressive vaccine outreach programs, mortality fell by 74 percent over the next decade.

• Varicella, prior to vaccine implementation, caused 11,000 hospital admissions and 100 deaths yearly in the U.S. Most people who die of varicella are previously healthy.

• Pertussis remains one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths, with an estimated 300,000 deaths per year worldwide.

We have seen the dangers of misinforming the public about vaccines with the fraudulent research paper published in 1998 that linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. Following this report, MMR rates plummeted in the U.K., Ireland and the U.S., leading to 300 cases of measles, 100 hospitalizations and three deaths. The evidence is overwhelming that no link between the vaccine and autism exists.

Our community deserves, and should demand, accurate information to help guide medical decision-making.

Jennifer Blechman, M.D.