vaccines | Texas Public Radio

vaccines

In the past few months there have been several outbreaks of mumps — a handful of cases linked to a Halloween party in Dallas and more to cheerleading contests in North Texas. As for measles, there have been fewer cases in Texas. But in 2013, there was an outbreak tied to a church northwest of Dallas. 

With that in mind, some experts predict Texas could soon be at the center of a nationwide debate over highly contagious diseases and vaccinations.

Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

Lawmakers at the state capitol are filing bills that would make it more difficult for parents to opt-out of having to vaccinate their school-age children.

A full decade after the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine to fight the sexually transmitted, cancer-causing human papillomavirus, almost half of all adolescents have still not received their first dose. This low vaccination rate is dramatic when compared to other routine childhood immunizations like polio and measles, mumps and rubella, where compliance is above 90 percent.

Georgia Moore was diagnosed with leukemia the day after her 10th birthday. The fourth-grader began an intense chemotherapy regimen, which left her immune system vulnerable and kept her from attending her small, private Montessori school in Austin, Texas.

But her younger sister Ivy was in kindergarten at the same school, where a handful of families opted out of vaccinating their children. That meant 6-year-old Ivy might bring home germs that could pose a risk to Georgia.

Contributed photo

Over the weekend San Antonio Express-News reporter Rye Druzin was escorted out of the Austin Education Summit by Dallas County Sheriffs.

The reason? He still doesn't know exactly why, but he is pretty sure that reporters weren't welcome.

The Americas are now free of measles, the first region in the world to achieve that goal, the Pan American Health Organization announced this week. The success is credited to the effectiveness of mass vaccination programs over the past 22 years.

What leads some people to say no — rather than yes — to vaccines? A survey of nearly 66,000 people about attitudes toward immunization has found some surprising results. In France, 41 percent of those surveyed said they did not have confidence in the safety of vaccines. By contrast, in Bangladesh, fewer than one percent of those surveyed expressed a lack of confidence.

Medical professionals have been quick to counter comments made by Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood about a link between autism and childhood vaccinations.  The medical groups stress there is no scientific link between the two, and vaccinations are an important preventative measure for children. 

Louisa Jonas / Texas Public Radio

School starts for most Texas children this month. Immunization clinics are full of parents taking their children to get shots. But last year almost 45,000 students in Texas schools had non-medical exemptions. Health officials are concerned.

Javier Salazar (R.N.): Just exercise your arm. You’re going to be ok. I’m going to do three on the right and one on the left. [repeats what he says in Spanish ]

Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game.

But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections.

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