DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the last couple of weeks, numerous North Texas schools have closed due to flu outbreaks and there are currently 9 cases of measles in the state.

Health officials have taken notice and are calling for change.

Advocates and public health experts talked Thursday during a news conference about strategies to protect children, schools, and communities against vaccine-preventable diseases.

A newborn baby suffering from measles lying in the hands of doctor. (photo credit: Getty Images)

“We are in a vaccine crisis and this should be a wake-up call for Texans to get serious and demand stronger legislation that reduces the number of parents opting out of vaccinating their children for non-medical reasons,” said Allison Winnike, J.D., president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership. “Vaccination rates are steadily decreasing which means we are seeing more cases of vaccine-preventable diseases in areas with clusters of unvaccinated children.”

The number of students with non-medical exemptions to school vaccine requirements has skyrocketed from just 2,314 in 2004 to 56,738 in 2018, an increase of 2,352%, according to the non-profit CHILDREN AT RISK.

Research shows that unvaccinated individuals tend to cluster in the same communities and schools, resulting in a breakdown of protective herd immunity; and leaving those individuals susceptible to outbreaks of disease.

“This is unacceptable and can’t go on,” said Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. “Parents are endangering their children and others by choosing not to vaccinate. It’s time for our legislators to support and pass the right bills that will help ensure our children and communities stay healthy, and avoid unnecessary disease outbreaks.”

In 2017, only 118 cases of the measles were documented in the United States. According to the CDC, most of the cases were found in people who weren’t vaccinated.