Perspectives on vaccination

Two respected local physicians share their views on mandatory vaccinations



“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.”
- Albert Einstein

How we have gained knowledge about preventable diseases certainly conforms to Einstein’s words.

In 1774, Benjamin Jesty, a farmer in England, saw friends and family becoming severely ill and dying from “the pox,” an extremely painful death caused by a merciless virus that would consume the body over days. When it did not cause death, it caused permanent disfigurement.

Guest Writer

Guest writer William J. Koenig II of McMinnville is a doctor of osteopathic medicine and pediatrician. He serves as Yamhill County’s health officer, and he is one of the county’s two medical examiners.

The farmer noticed that milkmaids on his farm did not get sick from the pox after getting sores on their hands. He decided there had to be a connection between milking cows and not getting the full-blown disease. He decided to inoculate his wife and children during an outbreak using pus from a sore on a milkmaid’s hand. They all survived.

In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine. Due to this vaccine, smallpox has been eradicated. Several governments embrace vaccinations; others oppose it. Always, vaccination inspires debate, controversy, anger and agreement.

Personally, I thank the Yamhill County community for deciding to vaccinate their children and making the prevention of disease a priority. Dedicated health care professionals at Physicians Medical Center in McMinnville and Yamhill County Public Health respect those who choose not to vaccinate. They also embrace every opportunity to encourage, educate and immunize the community.

A “need to vaccinate” letter is sent to guardians several times a year by public school secretaries. Over the school year, parents and guardians proceed to get “caught up” on immunizations required for school. On the third Wednesday of February, the number of letters sent the month before children are excluded from school are tracked, as well as those excluded due to lack of vaccines or documentation for exemptions.

In 2011, 1,509 letters were sent, and 494 children were excluded from school countywide. In 2012, 1,171 letters were mailed; 241 were asked to stay home. In 2013, 882 letters were mailed and 119 were excluded. Letters mailed in 2014 were at an all-time low of 564. Data for exclusion will be available in May.

Health-conscious residents of Yamhill County truly are responsible for keeping vaccine-preventable diseases at such a low rate in this community.

Another thank-you goes to those who do not vaccinate. Why? You keep the topic in discussion. I am confident in the science and believe the measures in place accurately monitor the safety of all vaccines. Those who do not vaccinate, those who cannot be vaccinated including people with cancer or compromised immune systems, and families with infants should thank those who vaccinate and continue to keep the disease burden low.

In order to prevent an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases, we all need to keep our vaccination status current.

Experience with vaccine-preventable diseases has been a very hard teacher throughout the years. It is important to continue passing the test and recognize valuable lessons learned, especially the medical research that strongly supports vaccination.

A healthy community is a vaccinated community.



As a parent, Oregon citizen, and physician, I strongly believe in a modified vaccination schedule that can be developed uniquely for each child.

Guest Writer

Guest writer Dr. Jessica Black is a naturopathic physician with clinics in Yamhill and Multnomah counties. She has written books on the anti-inflammation diet and living with Crohn’s disease and colitis.

I am a naturopathic family and pediatric physician. For more than 13 years, I have offered primary care to local families. I see hundreds of children annually, including many I help by developing personalized vaccination schedules.

Every child’s health status is unique. Children have various risks for vaccinations and any number of risks for developing illnesses. For example, breastfed at-home infants will have less risk for many illnesses. Additionally, infants who are not breastfed, are in daycare or living in crowded housing with other school-aged children will have more disease risk.

Vaccinating in a way that parallels the development of the immune system can be a safer option for some low-risk infants, requiring a different schedule than the CDC recommends.

To help you understand why a modified schedule is important, I’ll briefly describe a bit more about the immune system. When babies are born, they have what we consider a “non-specific” immune system. All the immunity they have toward offending bacteria or viruses is acquired through mom’s breast milk if they are breastfeeding. As they grow, develop and are exposed naturally to bacteria and viruses, babies begin to develop their “specific” immune response. When babies develop a specific immune response, their bodies create memory cells. When they are exposed to the same bacteria or virus the next time, these cells “remind” the body to react and mount the appropriate immune response. Studies indicate that strong specific immune responses are seen at five months of age and increase over time.

For this reason, I question whether it is appropriate for many babies to be vaccinated prior to the time they would normally develop their own specific immunity and memory cells. It may not be advantageous to a baby’s long-term health and, in fact, it could be harmful if we stimulate development of a specific immune system and produce memory cells months before the baby would naturally. Medical research shows that an over-dominant specific response is connected with many ailments such as atopic eczema, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancers.

Additionally, vaccines contain many excess chemicals, cell particles and sometimes heavy metals foreign to the human body. Delaying vaccinations until the infant is more developed means the infant may be better able to process these toxins efficiently, minimizing adverse effects. Separating doses of vaccines can also help minimize the total burden on an infant’s fragile system.

Are we doing it right? Here’s some food for thought: The current U.S. vaccination schedule proposes giving 26 vaccine doses to an infant before age 1, more than any other country in the world. At the same time, according to published infant mortality rates, more of our babies die in the first year of life than in 33 other nations.

Just in case these statistics are connected, I believe in playing it safe.




"Are we doing it right? Here’s some food for thought: The current U.S. vaccination schedule proposes giving 26 vaccine doses to an infant before age 1, more than any other country in the world. At the same time, according to published infant mortality rates, more of our babies die in the first year of life than in 33 other nations.

Just in case these statistics are connected, I believe in playing it safe."

This statement does not just demonstrate a complete ignorance of even basic statistical concepts, it is downright dangerous in the conclusions it is trying to infer. I am frankly appalled at the lack of basic scientific understanding from someone who claims to understand the immune system and care for infants.

There is no "debate" with regards to the life-saving necessity of vaccinations. The News Register does a disservice to its readers and to community health by presenting actual science and pseudo-science as equally valid viewpoints.


It's sad that the News-Register has created an article that plays the Pediatrician against the Naturopath. We should encourage them to work together, not fight one another.


Dr. Black uses the infant mortality staistic without defining and filtering cause. To make that argument viable all infant deaths in all countries would have to have been from diseases which we vaccinate for, otherwise the statistic equation is nonsequitor. We had a prime example with the resent measles outbreak. Neighborhoods with high vaccination rates have the disease stagnate when all available hosts are gone. Having a high percentage of vaccinated population (80-90 percent) creates a herd immunity for those unable to be immunized. On the recent documentary " Cancer:The emperor of diseases" a doctor for sees the end of cervical cancer with the vaccination process. The same reason we don't see polioor smallpox and rarely see measles. Refusing vaccinations for fear of a reaction is playing the odds on a long shot. It is equivalent to refusing to place your child in a buckled car seat because you drive over a bridge daily and if you ever went off the bridge you might not be able to save your child from drowning because you can't get them out in time. Yes, that is possible but it is much more likely that even a small accident will injure or even kill your child because they were not properly restrained. Simply, the odds are, regular vaccinations are much more likely to save your child rather then injure. And a 100% chance that regular vaccinations will help the rest of those in your community.

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