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Non-Medical Exemptions For School Vaccines Have More Than Doubled In Bexar County

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Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton/U.S. Air Force
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The percentage of students claiming non-medical vaccine exemptions in Bexar County grew from 0.32 percent in 2011 to 0.8 percent for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Texas students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade are mandated by state law to be immunized from a series of diseases, administered by injection.

The law also applies to childcare facilities and requires a meningococcal vaccination for college students. 

However, parents are able to opt-out of these vaccine requirements for their children.

Medical exemptions must be signed by a physician and submitted annually to the school or childcare facility.

Requests for exemptions due to "reasons of conscience" – often religious or philosophical beliefs – must be submitted within 90 days after the signing of a notarized affidavit and can be valid for up to two years.

What are the most commonly required vaccines in Texas schools and what diseases are they intended to prevent? What are the risks of forgoing recommended vaccinations, for the un-immunized child and their peers? 

What is the history of policy regarding vaccines in Texas schools? Is there a plan to address exemptions through future legislation?

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"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.