Oregon’s governor had some choice words about the ongoing measles outbreak in the Portland region when she spoke at a forum in Bend on Friday.
“Please get your children vaccinated,” Gov. Kate Brown said. “We know that what we are doing is not working because we’re seeing the measles outbreak. I’ll let the medical people talk about how important it is, but holy smokes, this is basic science. It absolutely is.”
Brown was speaking during a question and answer session after her state of the state speech hosted by the City Club of Central Oregon.
“Oregon statutes around requiring immunizations are — from a national perspective — relatively weak,” Brown added. “The state senator (Elizabeth Steiner Hayward) who attempted to strengthen our vaccination rates was literally bogged down by avid parents. Honestly, I think the medical community needs to speak out.”
Clark County, Washington, public health officials confirmed Friday there are 42 cases there, along with seven other suspected cases. Beyond southwest Washington, where the outbreak began, cases have also surfaced in Multnomah County, Deschutes County and King County.
The vast majority of the cases — 37 out of 42 in Clark County — were linked to people who did not have vaccinations for measles. Only one case occurred in a person who was vaccinated.
Brown’s comments Friday aren’t the first time she’s been outspoken about her support for immunizations, even though some Northwest areas rank among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
During an October debate against Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, Brown said “we probably give parents a little too much leeway.”
Buehler, who was a state representative from Bend at the time and is a trained physician, said he backed Oregon’s current approach.