Turns out, more than 38,000 students at Texas public and private schools were exempt from having to get the 10 vaccines required by Texas law last school year, equating to about .75 percent of the total student population, according to the Department of State Health Services. State law allows parents to opt out of the required immunizations, including the measles.
As the Texas Tribune reports, that number of students with non-medical exemptions from vaccines has increased dramatically: it's up from 3,000 students exempt in 2004. The Tribune writes that medical experts believe the increase in the number of such exemptions has led to the increased rates of diseases like the measles.
So how do San Antonio-area school stack up against other schools in Texas when it comes to vaccine exemptions? Bexar County public independent school districts and private schools didn't make it into the top 10 list of Texas schools with the highest numbers, but here's a list of large area school districts with their exemptions, organized by size of overall student population:
- Northside ISD: 477 students exempt from vaccines; .47 percent of entire student population
- Northeast ISD: 519; .76 percent of student population
- San Antonio ISD: 71; .15 percent
- Judson ISD: 74, .33 percent
- Southwest ISD: 17; .13 percent
- Edgewood ISD: 10; 0.09 percent
- South San Antonio ISD: 2; 0.02 percent
to peruse the Tribune's data app to find more public and private school vaccine exemption numbers.
On Friday, State. Rep. Jason Villaba, a Republican from Dallas, said he plans to file a bill
this legislative session to limit the number of vaccine exemptions. Right now, parents can opt out of immunizing their children for religious or personal reasons, but Villaba will propose next week to eliminate those options for parents. Parents will still be able to opt out of vaccinating their children for medical reasons.
Remember those shots you got before starting school as a kid? The recent spike in measles cases across the country—102 cases across 14 states in one month—has sparked a conversation about the efficacy, and safety, of those vaccinations. Still, despite all the the hot air from so-called anti-vaxxers and conservative politicians who choose to reject immunization recommendations from major medical groups, no real scientific evidence shows that vaccines have detrimental effects on a child's neurological or mental health.