Oregonians act in a curiously inconsistent way when it comes to healthy living.

We work out more often than people in most other states.

Oregon ranked third in that category in a recent report from the United Health Foundation, which has compiled its America's Health Rankings study for each of the past 28 years.

But Oregon's performance in another vital area — vaccinations against preventable diseases — is pathetic.

The state ranked last in the immunization rate for children 35 months and younger. And we're in the bottom 10 for adolescent vaccination rates and immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and meningococcal disease.

Although it's gratifying that Oregonians, as a general rule, are diligent about their personal cardiovascular health, it's distressing that so many of us refuse to avail ourselves — and more to the point, our children — of inoculations that could save not only our own lives, but those of people we'll never meet.

The efficacy and safety of vaccines is not a matter of debate.

They're not perfect, of course. Vaccines don't work 100 percent of the time, and in exceedingly rare cases they cause serious harm, including death.

But when it comes to public health, the modern immunization system is about as close to perfection as we're likely to achieve.

Oregon has a well-earned reputation for defying convention in such things as sales taxes and self-service gasoline.

But being an iconoclast when it comes to preventing terrible diseases is a point of shame for the state, not pride.

The Legislature should revive the effort, which failed a few years ago, to stop allowing Oregonians to avoid vaccinating public school students based on a "philosophical" objection rather than a legitimate medical need.

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