Rising number of Texas parents opting out of measles vaccines

Cameron Fierro
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas medical researcher is raising concerns about a potential large-scale comeback of the measles.

Peter Hotez, Baylor College researcher, says Texas is on the verge of a measles out-break. The main reason is because parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Immunizations are a highly debated topic. State lawmakers from Austin want to change the trend of opting out of immunizations.

This is the skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection; treated at a New York hospital.
Measles creates rashes on the skin.

Austin Democrat Donna Howard plans to push a bill this legislative session. It would require parents to meet with a doctor before they decide not to vaccinate their children.

Last year, nearly 45,000 Texas students opted out of school-required vaccines. That’s up nine-percent from the year before.

The symptoms of measles include a fever, rash, runny nose, and red eyes. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four people who contract measles has to be hospitalized. It is dangerous for children because it can cause serious medical issues especially for anyone under the age of 5.

Measles is also highly contagious, the CDC says, if an infected person comes into contact with 10 people, nine of them will be infected.

Before the vaccine, there was a huge spike in Texas cases in 1958 with 85,862 people infected, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Nearly 50 years later, in the year 2000, it was declared across the country that measles had been eliminated due to the innovative vaccine program.

However, the illness is still present due to the people who choose not to be vaccinated or bring it over from other countries. The majority of measles related deaths are children. While in 2015, there was only one reported Texas case, Hotez says we will start to see those numbers increase as more children are not vaccinated against it.

“In today’s travel heavy society, any of these vaccine preventable diseases could be boarding a plane right now and heading to our community at 600 mph,” said Hays County Health Department Epidemiologist Eric Schneider.

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