Measles

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County is one of 25 counties in the U.S. that is at highest risk for a measles outbreak, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and UT Austin ranked Travis County 22nd on the list, citing its high rates of nonmedical childhood vaccination exemptions and its high volume of international travel. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin’s health department is taking precautionary steps in case the measles virus arrives in Travis County. So far, officials say, there are eight reported cases in Texas, the closest to Austin being in the Temple area.

At least 11 states have seen measles cases this winter.

Shutterstock

Texas allows parents to have their kids opt out of vaccinations for measles, mumps and other diseases. Two years ago, California stopped allowing those exemptions; a similar Texas effort fell short. This session in Austin, the sponsor of that bill isn't trying to end the "conscientious" exemption. His allies are using a different strategy.

KUT News

Vaccines have been in the news yet again lately. On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires almost all school children to be fully vaccinated in order to go to school, allowing only some medical exemptions.

Meantime, a health care company in Central Texas says it will no longer treat children who don’t get fully immunized. The company cites a measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last year as a chief reason for the policy change. Texas does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations if they use religious or personal beliefs. 

Bill Would Require More Texas Parents to Vaccinate Children

Feb 6, 2015
Pascal Dolémieux/flickr

A state lawmaker wants to boost vaccine requirements for children in Texas public schools and give parents fewer exemptions.

Right now, public schools in Texas can waive immunization requirements for students whose parents claim exemptions including medical, military or what the state calls reasons of conscience.

Sanofi Pasteur/flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently dealing with more than 100 cases of measles. In 2014, the U.S. saw 644 cases, more than it had seen in two decades. Texas had its own measles scare as recently as January, though it ultimately was just a scare.

At the same time, politicians as public-facing as New Jersey Gov. and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie are weighing in on the ongoing vaccination debate. Christie said that parents should be given a choice of whether or not to vaccinate their kids from diseases such as the measles. Another likely presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, echoed that sentiment, saying he believes kids should not be getting "ten vaccines at once" and that parents should have "some input."