Medical professionals host talk to inform public about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines

May 3, 2019

About 25 people turned out for a presentation and question-answer session about vaccinations Thursday night at CHI Mercy Medical Center for a discussion about the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations.

The event was put on by Evergreen Family Medicine in Roseburg and Dr. Tim Powell, the CEO and medical director of Evergreen, who told the audience that he deeply believes in the value of immunizations.

“There is no question, no reasonable person anywhere would argue whether or not vaccines work,” he said. “Of course they work.”

But he added that the more difficult discussion is if vaccinations are safe.

“And they’re not perfectly safe, but they are a lot safer than the disease, and the risks are very small,” Powell said.

Not everyone agreed. Shawn Kellim said he raised a son and fully vaccinated him. The son is now 20 years old and has chronic asthma. Kellim said he can’t attribute that to anything in particular, but he wonders if the vaccines might have had something to do with it.

“My position is if you want to vaccinate your child, fine, but do the research, and I want to have that same ability as a parent to look at it and say, ‘there’s too many unknowns here,’” Kellim said. “There are far too many holes in the things that we’re being told.”

Powell said Evergreen has decided not to treat children whose parents choose not to allow the vaccinations.

“We will not participate in their care, they’re a danger to our other patients,” Powell said.

Powell said he supports HB 3063 in the Oregon Legislature, a bill that would remove non-medical exemptions for school-aged children, but it won’t have much effect on what Evergreen does.

“Truly, it won’t change anything that I’ve done, because at Evergreen, we’ve already taken that stand,” Powell said. “I believe a decision not to immunize your children is tantamount to neglect and I won’t be a partner in that.”

Kellim said he’s opposed to not having a choice.

“I’m very opposed to the state telling me that I have to do anything,” Kellim said. “What’s going to happen when they figure out that this vaccine doesn’t actually produce life-long immunity.”

HB 3063 is expected to get a full vote of the Oregon House of Representatives on Monday.

The bill would remove the ability of parents to decline required immunizations against restrictable diseases on behalf of a child for a reason other than the child’s indicated medical diagnosis.

The bill is scheduled to be voted on Monday and is expected to pass the House, but it could have a tougher time in the Senate.