Bill would auto-enroll people into Texas immunization registry

(AP Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent outbreak of measles cases hitting 18 states, including Texas, has pushed the vaccine debate back into the spotlight.

Texas currently has a immunization registry call ImmTrac that stores vaccination records for patients and could help in case of outbreaks. Patients have to opt-in to having their name added to the registry.

A bill co-sponsored by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, would automatically enroll patients. The bill passed in the House during the last legislative session but failed in the Senate. Howard is sponsoring an identical bill this time around.

ImmTrac allows the Texas Department of State Health Services to store your vaccination records electronically. Doctors, public health departments and schools can access that immunization history to make sure important vaccines are not missed.

Critics, however, say that gives the government too much power and violates privacy rights.

Right now state law says parents can opt-out of vaccinations if they have religious or other personal beliefs against vaccines. Since that law went into effect in 2003, more parents are getting vaccination exemptions for their children.

The state’s health department said more than 38,000 were exempted from required vaccinations in the 2013-2014 school year.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said in a statement Wednesday that he “supports current Texas law that he believes strikes the right balance of requiring vaccinations while still allowing parents to opt out under certain circumstances.”

Abbott also encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated, just as he and the First Lady did with their daughter.

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