Opt-Out Fallout: Vaccine Exemptions Rising

Opt-Out Fallout: Vaccine Exemptions Rising

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LUBBOCK, Texas - There are 14 vaccine preventable diseases including measles, mumps, and whooping cough that are still a threat in the United States. The number of people choosing not to be vaccinated for non-medical reasons is rising each year. 

Carla Thrash is the mother of four children who all have immune disorders.

"I came very close to losing my child at Christmas time," Thrash said. 

Her children can't take vaccines, so when others decide not to vaccinate their children, her children have a higher risk of getting sick and ending up in the hospital. 

"The kids that are not being vaccinated are putting my kids at risk because your kid may just get a simple rash from the chicken pox, my kid could end up in the hospital or potentially dying from it," Thrash said. 

Texans for Vaccine Choice advocates for protecting and advancing informed consent to vaccinate, medical privacy, and vaccine choice. Jackie Shlegel, the Executive Director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, said the parents she talks with get concerned when the state and government make decisions for them. 

"Hey, we're doing a good job raising our children, allow us to continue to make these decisions and as an organization who really takes pride in medical privacy, that's all we need to know,"  Shlegel said. "These are decisions left up to the family and they are best left up to the family."

Thrash agrees that parents have the choice, but would like for them to think about her children as well. 

Texas is one of 18 states that allows families to opt out of vaccines for personal or moral beliefs. According to the Texas Annual Report of Immunization Status, the highest rate of exemption in Lubbock last year was one in five children at Kingdom Preparatory School.  

Dr. Josh Hill from Covenant Hospital said vaccines aren't just about a single person, but about the population as a whole. He cites parents who decide not to vaccinate their children because of allergies or reactions to the vaccine. He said they want to be all natural, more holistic, they want to go against the main stream, and there are other views. 

"For some reason or another, I think that some people feel like vaccines are the government's way of sticking it to the population or there's a lot of different conspiracy theories out there," Dr. Hill said. 

He said vaccines are safe and the theory they cause autism has been discredited.  

"Vaccines are some of the best things we've been able to create in medicine and I think it's a shame to not use those," Dr. Hill said. 

For more information about the immunization rates for schools in our area: click here.

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