Vaccine exemptions in Texas quadrupled in last decade
“The public doesn’t trust doctors and the whole medical field…”
Austin American Statesman – Some parents say they don’t want the government to mandate decisions for their children.
The rate of Texas students forgoing vaccinations has soared over the past decade, with more parents questioning the wisdom of vaccinating their children, even as public health experts warn of the dangers of opting out.
Slightly more than 1 percent of Texas public and private school students received conscientious exemptions from state-mandated vaccinations during last school year, a fourfold increase from the 2007-08 school year.
The statewide rate has increased every year during that time, according to an American-Statesman analysis of state data.
In Travis County, the exemption rate also has quadrupled over the last decade from 0.66 percent to 2.72 percent. Some Austin private and charter schools posted some of the highest exemption rates in the state.
Parents who have obtained or support the exemptions say they, not the government, should decide whether to vaccinate children.
That idea has gained currency among conservative state lawmakers, who have unsuccessfully pushed to make it easier for parents to obtain exemption forms.
Physicians and others who promote childhood vaccinations attribute the rise in opt-out rates to the politicization of vaccines as well as exaggerated and debunked claims of vaccine dangers.
Pointing to recent spikes in several infectious diseases across Texas, public health officials say children with conscientious exemptions endanger children who can’t receive vaccines for medical reasons and potentially weaken the immunity of an entire community.
“I see kids with serious infections all the time. I know what things were like before we had some of the new vaccines, and I’ve seen kinds of diseases that were serious in kids go away when we had new immunizations come out,” said Donald Murphey, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“The public doesn’t trust doctors and the whole medical field…” Read more at mystatesman.com.
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