EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County Public Health is desperate for families to immunize their children and prevent outbreaks of disease, but the county has one of the lowest rates of properly immunized kindergartners in the state.
Wednesday is exclusion day in Lane County, meaning children who are not up to date on their shots won’t be allowed to go to school. Families are rushing in to clinics to get their children vaccinations for diseases like whooping cough, the mumps and the measles.
Lane County Public Health is doing everything it can to make it easy and affordable for families to get their children the mandatory vaccinations.
“If you can’t pay, we can provide immunizations for you free of charge,” said Jason Davis, Lane County Public Health Spokesman.
For doctors, the lack of immunized children is alarming.
“Whooping cough and measles in particular are really really frightening to public health people because a single case can cause, 15, 16, 17 other cases,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Public Health.
Health experts are particularly worried about school children. They say kids are the most vulnerable and the most likely to spread these diseases.
“There’s all kinds of transmission. Hands touching mouths, touching desks, touching chairs; so germs are spread really rapidly,” said Davis.
That’s why the county is trying to make it simple for people to get the vaccinations. Families can go to the Charnelton Clinic on West 7th Avenue or the Riverstone Family Clinic in Springfield.
The extra immunizations might end up saving lives.
“We avoid death. Pertussis, unfortunately, takes lives; especially in children, we don’t want to see that happen,” said Davis.
Doctors say people have made the mistake of thinking these diseases are no longer a threat in 2013.
“The fact is they still kill thousands and thousands of people across our planet,” said Dr. Luedtke
In the last three years, both Washington and California have seen outbreaks of whooping cough that killed several children. Lane County Public Health is trying to avoid such an outbreaks here in Oregon.