By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Unvaccinated Y-C students get 21-day exclusion

The student diagnosed with the disease is no longer infectious, according to school officials, and has recovered sufficiently to return to school. However, that student could have infected others, and it will be 21 days before any remaining risk has passed.

The school called the parents of the affected students to notified them of the exclusion. The News-Register was contacted by the parents of one them, Cecily and Jon Spencer.

The Spencers feel unvaccinated children are being unfairly singled out. They say the vaccination isn’t foolproof, so vaccinated children are also at risk.

The school district isn’t happy about the exclusions either, but Superintendent Charan Cline said it is required to follow county health officer orders.

“We don’t have a choice,” he said. “It’s not like we want to exclude children, especially for 21 days. That’s crazy.”

Cline said the unvaccinated children are being excluded so they don’t contract the disease and pass it on to others. But the Spencers say vaccinated children could also contract and transmit the potentially serious, even fatal, disease, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control posting found at

In a note to Principal Michael Fisher, Jon Spencer wrote, “The CDC  website states that, ‘In general, DTaP vaccines are 80-90% effective. Among kids who get all five doses of DTaP on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the 5th dose. At least nine out of 10 kids are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About seven out of 10 kids are fully protected five years after getting their last dose of DTaP, and the other 3 out of 10 kids are partially protected – protecting against serious disease.’”

He concluded, “This would suggest that you have vaccinated children that are at risk and still attending school.”

He said he doesn’t understand why the health department isn’t taking action to protect vaccinated children who may also be at risk. “Unfortunately, I think this has nothing to do with protecting children, but has to do with an agenda forcing children to be vaccinated,” he said.

The county did not issue any public notice about the case or the exclusions. Public Health Manager Lindsey Manfrin said that’s because notification in such circumstances is not county policy.

“In general, we do press releases when something becomes more widespread or a threat to the general community,” Manfrin said in an e-mail to the News-Register. “We believe this is currently contained and will surely alert the community should that change.”

Last year, Manfrin said, the county had 16 confirmed or presumptive cases of pertussis, “with many of them being in school-aged children.” And she said there have been six known cases in the county so far this year, four in school-age children and two in college-age children.

She declined to address Spencer’s complaints in a public forum, but said she would be happy to discuss them with him privately. “I am not sure I understand the question or expectation around what we are doing for the vaccinated students, but I am always happy to talk to parents with any concerns, should they contact me or our health officer,” she said.

In this instance, Manfrin said, “We learned about the positive case on Monday, and our health officer, Dr. Koenig, issued verbal exclusion orders on Tuesday, after working with the school and reviewing immunization records and exposure risks.” She said, “Each exclusion order is unique to the individual child and (his or her) exposure and susceptibility.”

The Spencers, who have eight children, have been seeking vaccine exemptions for them for 27 years, Jon Spencer said.

“My wife has done tons of research on this,” he said. “We’re not ignorant hillbillies coming off the hill. We understand the risks, and we still feel the risks of the shot outweighs the benefits of it.”

Spencer said he fears the lengthy exclusion will disrupt the children’s schooling.

“They’re right in the middle of state testing,” he said. “It’s extremely disruptive for everybody.”

The school is considering its options for the excluded children. Cline said one option would be to set up a video feed to allow the excluded students to participate in their classes remotely.

Spencer said he was told another option would be to segregate the excluded students in a single classroom, which would be subject to special cleaning. “So they’re essentially saying, ‘Your children are diseased,’” he said.

He said they’d been advised a decision on how to proceed was still pending. “We’ve been told not to expect anything until next Tuesday,” he said.

In April, a child in the McMinnville School District was diagnosed with whooping cough. The district sent home a warning letter from Public Health with students.

However, all the child’s classmates had been vaccinated, and no children were excluded from school.

In late March, a Linfield College student was diagnosed with the disease. The student was isolated while undergoing treatment, and other members of the staff and student body were advised to watch for symptoms.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, causes a week or two of severe coughing. Although most people are immunized in childhood, immunity wanes over time.

The disease is considered particularly dangerous to infants, pregnant women and people suffering from compromised immune systems or pre-existing conditions.



Hmmmm. 80 to 90 percent effective. So the fact that the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective renders it useless? The figures Spencer spouts eradicate his own argument. Methinks there is a little nuttiness up on them thar hills (from which Spencer and his wife didn't descend).

Horse with no name

Why isn't Superintendent Charan Cline happy to comply with the county health officer to protect children from a potentially fatal health threat? Looks like there's plenty of nutty to go around. I'm glad we have professionals working at the county health department. Thank you Officer William Koenig.


“So they’re essentially saying, ‘Your children are diseased,’” he said.

No, Mr. Spencer. They're saying: "Your children haven't received a vaccination with an 80 to 90% efficacy rate. Hence, with a statistically significant risk of disease contraction and transmission, your children are at risk of potentially infecting others because you chose not to vaccinate them."

You could, Mr. Spencer, use this as a teaching moment. Something along the lines of: "Kids, all of our choices have consequences. Since your mother and I chose not to vaccinate you, you are being excluded temporarily from school. This is a consequence of our choice not to vaccinate. We should all be grateful that our choice hasn't yet resulted in your being infected with a potentially fatal disease, a much more serious consequence."

But then, I wouldn't expect such nuanced thinking to be as commonplace in that household as, say, E. coli.