Monday, November 28, 2016

Implications of Vaccine Exemptions for Texas Students

A recent article released by Houston News on November 17th, 2016 stated that an increasing number of students attending schools in Texas at receiving vaccine exemptions. Texas is one of eighteen states in the United States that permits vaccine exemptions for non-medical and non-religious reasons. Chris Deusan, a representative from the Texas Department of State Health Services, has expressed his concern for the high likelihood of an outbreak due to the low vaccination rates. Current childhood vaccines protect against chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and whooping cough (just to name a few of the vaccine preventable diseases).
Many parents have relied on herd immunity as 98% of the current population of Texas residents has been vaccinated; however, the protection by herd immunity will drastically decrease as the number of unvaccinated children increase, with already an increase from 2,000 to 44,000 exemptions just this year. The Austin Waldorf School, a private academy in Southwest Texas, is the school with the highest vaccine exemption rate in the state, with more than 40% of students remaining unvaccinated. The principal Kathy McElveen states that the school does not encourage nor discourage parents from vaccine exemptions and will respect whichever decision the parents make regarding their children's health. McElveen states that she does not predict that the vaccine exemptions will cause any significant health complications or future outbreaks because many parents choose to vaccinate their children on a different (delayed) schedule or will vaccinate their children against only certain diseases such as chickenpox.
However, this is a case for serious concern, because in the book Deadly Choices by Paul Offit, receiving the vaccinations at a later time period decreases the efficacy of the vaccinations. Protecting against certain diseases still leaves the possibility of decreased herd immunity.

Check out the article here:

~Michelle Bach (Humans and Viruses 2016-2017)

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