NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Is it a public safety threat or personal Choice? Newly proposed legislation may force more Texas parents to vaccinate their children.
As it stands, about 99-percent of students statewide are fully vaccinated. The rate in the Dallas Independent School District is even higher, at about 99.7-percent. But one state lawmaker believes there are still too many public school students opting out of vaccinations.
Amara insists she likes vaccinations. When the 9-year-old was asked if she’s okay with getting a shot she said “yes.” As for the pain and it hurting she said, “Kind of, not really.”
While Amara is fully vaccinated some of her classmates may not be.
Mother Sara Bravo said, “I have a couple good friends who’ve opted to not [vaccinate], because they worry about autism.”
State representative Jason Villalba is proposing to bar public school students from opting out for personal or religious reasons.
“We’re trying to just make sure that if you want to send your kids to public school that you’re going to get them properly immunized, so you don’t bring these diseases to the school,” he said.
The number of conscientious objectors, i.e. kids voluntarily opting out of immunizations, statewide has tripled in six years.
School districts keep records of each student.
Gloria Canham, a nurse in the Richardson Independent School District, said, “Should we get a kind of infectious disease like measles then we would know who they are and they would have to be excluded from school.”
Last year North Texas school districts had fewer than 2-percent of students opting out.
The numbers were higher at private schools, where as many 13-percent were unvaccinated. Villalba explained that his bill wouldn’t affect those students. “A private school should be able to make whatever procedures in place that they want. I don’t want to prevent for instance a religious school from being able to provide a religious exemption for those students.”
Addressing the issue of students with religious objections, who can’t afford private school, Villalba said, “They can home school – -which doesn’t cost anything.”
The issue has some parents conflicted. Sara Bravo isn’t sure how she feels. “Because I think the government has their hands in too many things and they’re trying to control too much. But then on the other hand, I’d want them to because then everybody’s safe. It’s one of those catch-22s.”
Villalba’s bill would still allow students to opt out for medical reasons. That much less common exemption requires a doctor’s approval.
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