Texas Lawmaker Looks To Make Opting Out of Vaccines Even Easier
While cases of mumps and measles are on the rise, a Texas lawmaker is looking to pass legislation that would hinder the state's ability to track people who opt out of vaccines.
Representative Matt Krause has introduced a bill to make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, as well as preventing the state health department from tracking the exemptions. According to the Texas Observer, Krause argued that in states like California, those who opted out of vaccinations were hunted down. Krause said he'd be willing to eliminate the portion that prevents tracking only "if Texans for Vaccine Choice or some other vaccine choice groups or other folks from the medical community say that’s a bad idea.”
So far in 2019 there have been 127 confirmed cases of measles. In Texas, there have been 8 reported cases so far, just one shy of the total reported amount the previous year. The number of conscience exemptions from vaccines in Texas went from 2,300 in 2003 to 53,000 in 2017.
Officials have spoken out against such legal measures, saying it would prevent them from tracking and preventing outbreaks, and that parents of children with compromised immune systems wouldn't have the information necessary to decide if a school is safe for their children. Leading vaccine scientist Peter Hotez said,
This is the modus operandi for anti-vaxxers in Texas: to promote exemptions, obfuscate and minimize transparency. To do this in the middle of a measles outbreak in Texas is especially unconscionable.
The Anti-vaxxer movement is at the heart of the recent rises in once eliminated or drastically reduced diseases, with mumps cases in Texas at a 20-year high. Darla Shine, the wife of the White House communication director, recently tweeted that a return of childhood diseases helps keep people healthy and fight cancer. Texas state Representative Bill Zedler also argued that the need for vaccines is overblown, saying,
They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in third-world countries they’re dying of measles. Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.
However, Zedler doesn't seem to be aware that antibiotics fight infections, not viruses like measles. According to the CDC, in the time when Representative Zedler was a child, 20 years before the introduction of the measles vaccine, 450 people died each year from measles, with millions more infected and 48,000 hospitalized.