If some parents had their way, vaccines would go the way of smallpox.
In Texas, amidst several measles outbreaks, some lawmakers want to make it easy for parents to opt their children out of receiving potentially life-saving vaccinations due to “conscientious objections.”
These anti-vaccination parents and political action groups have put pressure on a number of Republican lawmakers who seem intent on choosing bad medicine over decades of sound medical science.
As reported this week in the Texas Observer, a new bill filed in the current legislature seeks to ban the Texas health department from tracking vaccine exemptions in “a move medical experts say would curb their ability to identify outbreaks.”
According to the publication, there were 127 confirmed measles cases in the United States in the first 90 days of 2019, mostly amongst unvaccinated people. Texas has had eight confirmed cases centered in the Houston area. The number of Texas parents opting their children from vaccinations with “conscience” objections went from approximately 2,300 in 2003 to 53,000 in 2017. Texas had nine measles cases in 2018 and one in 2017.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing, according to data from the Texas Health and Human Services. It is so contagious that if an individual has it, 90 percent of those not immune that come in contact with the individual will become infected.
The measles vaccine is very effective at about 97 percent after two doses, the report states. Children that are too young to be vaccinated or have had only one dose of vaccine are more likely to get infected if exposed.
The situation exists due to reports linking childhood autism rates and other ailments to vaccines. A 1998 study citing such has since been debunked as “junk science,” yet some still believe the myth that vaccines kill. Up the road in Travis County, Austin has been named as one of 14 anti-vaccine “hot spots” in America where there is a large population of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, as reported in the Public Library of Science (PLOS). In the private Austin Waldorf School, 49 percent of students on that campus have not been vaccinated.
Gonzales County parents tend to side with vaccination.
At Gonzales ISD, Superintendent Dr. Kim Strozier said that her district is “100 percent compliant with vaccinations.”
“We have few with either conscientious objections or medical exemptions at .006 percent,” she said.
Down at Nixon-Smiley CISD, Superintendent Cathy Lauer conferred with her nurses and found that the schools have one middle school student and five at the elementary who have parents that pulled them from their rounds of vaccinations, for whatever reason.
“So far, no measles or any other problems,” Lauer said. “This is one of those fads we hope blows over quickly.”
Meanwhile, Texas state Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) is helping to complicate matters at local school districts by filing a bill recently making it easier for parents to request vaccine exemptions, per the Observer. The bill would prevent state health departments from tracking the number of exemptions. The worry amongst Krause and his anti-vaccine supporters is that they would be tracked and bullied should their exemptions be exposed. Krause went on to discredit medical professionals who support vaccinations, saying that he wasn't so sure that their fears were accurate.
Another state elected official, Representative Bill Zedler (R-Arlington), added his voice for the anti-vaccination crowd, saying that it was OK to go around being unvaccinated because he grew up with “a lot of these illnesses.”
“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in third-world countries they're dying of measles,” Zedler said. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they're not dying in America.
“This is not the Soviet Union, you know.”
Antibiotics do not have an effect on the measles virus.