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Vaccine issue sparks heated response from legislator

As with any major controversy, the issue has reached the Oregon State Capitol.

Editor's note: After this blurb was published, Brittany Ruiz reached out via email to Oregon Capital Insider about the original headline. "Not once have I mentioned anything about a family not vaccinating or being anti-vaxx...My email to Rep Greenlick was purely to remind the legislators that Oregon's exemption rates are very low and do not equal vaccination rates, which are HIGH."

Now that there are at least 35 confirmed cases of measles in Clark County, Wash., more people are paying attention to the issue of vaccination.

The disease has spread to Portland, including a Trail Blazers game, and to Bend, where two kids from Clark County visited.

As with any major controversy, the issue has reached the Oregon Capitol.

Brittany Ruiz, an Oregon parent, emailed the press corps and several members of the Legislature on Sunday raising questions about state vaccination statistics and claiming "we have zero emergency in our state."

One recipient of the email: Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, who promptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Ruiz.

In a reply-all message, Greenlick, who chairs the House Committee on Health Care, wrote:

"Ms. Ruiz, at your request my office made an appointment for us to talk at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. I am cancelling that appointment with this message. I don't have the patience to listen to your nonsense in the face of what is going on in Vancouver. Rather than disputing data your efforts could be better spent helping to make sure every kid gets immunized."

Meanwhile, Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, dealt with a Twitter backlash after posting on the site that she'd had her daughter, who is in college in Washington, vaccinated against measles.

In a lengthy Facebook post after more than 100 people replied to her Twitter post, Gelser said that her "compliance with my belief in what the science says is an expression of my love and protection for her."

"Clearly, some people do not believe the same thing and I do not believe they don't love their children or are willfully exposing their children to danger," Gelser wrote. "However, I do believe that a lot of misinformation exists that leads loving parents to unknowingly put their children — and infants, immunocompromised children and adults — at great risk."

A study finding correlation between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly debunked but misinformation about the issue persists. The MMR vaccine is delivered in two doses — one in infancy and in early childhood — and is highly effective at preventing the contraction of measles, mumps and rubella. There is another vaccine, MMRV, that protects against those diseases and varicella (also known as chicken pox).

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization identified "vaccine hesitancy" as one of the top 10 threats to public health.