Texas cities are vaccine opt-out 'hot spots'

Grant Boone
June 17, 2018

A new study of 18 states that exempt children from vaccination requirements for nonmedical reasons found these rates are rising among kindergartners in 12 states, including Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Texas, and Maine.

In Michigan, three cities are not vaccinating, it says: Detroit, Troy and Warren.

For the current study, researchers examined routine public health data collected by states on the number of children enrolling in kindergarten with non-medical vaccine exemptions. The alarming thing is that this rise in non-medical exemptions (NMEs) is creating risky hot spots for vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. A major reason behind choosing not to vaccinate children for philosophical reasons is the erroneous and disproven claim that vaccines cause autism.

"Our study of vaccine exemptions find that while nationally immunization rates may have not changed much, we may have unmasked a number of both rural and urban hotspots where large numbers of children are not receiving access to life-saving vaccines", study author Peter Hotez, professor at Baylor College of Medicine and co-editor-in-chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, told CBS News. Texas has more cities on the list than any other state. In recent years, multiple outbreaks of measles - once considered eliminated by the CDC in 2000 - have popped up. The other six states that allow exemptions are Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Wisconsin.

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Eight of the top 10 counties with the highest exemption rates for the 2016 - 2017 school year are in Idaho.

A new report in the medical journal PLOS Medicine finds Idaho is home to almost every county among the top 10 in states allowing non-medical exemptions for childhood immunizations.

Hotez and Nolan said a second study is underway on these areas to learn how to better target campaigns aimed at encouraging more families to allow vaccinations.

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