There are many parents in the free-spirited town Ashland, Oregon who won't get their kids vaccinated -- so many that federal researchers are paying money just to hear their views. Eighty locals received $50 apiece to talk about their worries regarding the risks of childhood shots.
The meeting is one of three in which the government is paying average citizens to give their views, in order to help inform officials charting the direction of vaccine research for the next five years. A similar meeting was held in Birmingham, Alabama and another is set for Indianapolis, Indiana. Both of those sites tend to hold more mainstream views about vaccines.
Ashland has one of the highest rates in the nation for vaccine exemptions -- 28 percent and rising in kindergartens, compared with about 4 percent statewide. One alternative school has a 67 percent vaccine exemption rate.
Seattle Times January 9, 2009