Two stories, at first glance unrelated, were published recently. One story (here) identifies Oregon as the state with the lowest rate of high school graduation, which is a polite way of saying that the least educated among us have, on average, less education than the least educated in 48 other states. (Idaho didn't report its results.) The other story, often repeated (here's an Oregonian story from October about the topic), identifies Oregon as the state with the highest rate of parents who prefer not to immunize their children against what used to be the common diseases of childhood -- measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox, for example. In the early 1960s the United States saw more than 400,000 cases of measles a year; in 2012 there were only a few hundred reported cases. The 99.5% drop is the result of the vaccine.
Maybe there's a connection between these two stories, and the reason that Oregonians don't believe in the science behind vaccination and the immune system is that Oregonians simply aren't, as a group, all that well educated. As we make fun of the Southern states' continued efforts to teach creationism in biology class we might ask ourselves whether their citizens mock our simple-minded disbelief in bacteriology.