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Seattle Children’s doctor sets record straight on vaccines after controversial article

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SEATTLE -- A Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician wants to set the record straight on vaccines.

“Our position is a very pro-vaccine position,” Dr. Douglas Opel said.

But some vaccine supporters got the impression from Opel's recent article in the American Academy of Pediatrics that it is OK to opt out of required vaccinations except for measles.

“We were not advocating for loosening the requirements or encouraging parents to opt out,” Opel said Thursday.

In fact, Opel is saying the opposite. He said the purpose of the article was to open up dialogue and convince people to vaccinate their children.

“With our paper, we suggested simply one path in reaching the goal,” Opel said

Under Washington state law, parents can opt out of vaccines based on philosophical, religious or medical reasons.

Health officials say 13% of kids across Washington don’t have the recommended vaccines by the time they go to school.

“We’ve got a significant chunk of kids that are not getting vaccinated,” Dr. Jeff Duchin said.

Duchin helped Opel write the article; both men are concerned over measles with the resurgence of the disease.

“To think of measles as especially important, it's a very contagious disease. It can spread rapidly through a community,” Opel said.

Doctors say their emphasis on the measles does not mean other vaccines are not important.

“All kids should get recommended vaccines,” Duchin said.

They understand many parents are concerned about the safety of vaccines.

“Vaccines are failing because they are buggy-whipped technology,” parent Michael Belkin said.

That's why Opel is calling on more educational initiatives and enforcement of current rules.

If that doesn’t work, he said, he would support a law that would make it illegal to opt out of vaccines starting with the measles vaccine.

“To get as many children immunized and immunized on time,” Opel said.

Opel added that he would only support a state law mandating all children get vaccinated after trying other methods, such as enforcement and education. If those measures fail after a few years, he says he would support a strict mandate.