Texas is one of 16 states that allow children to go to school unvaccinated due to “reasons of conscience,” which is different than medical or even religious reasons.
Since 2006, when the state first began reporting data about vaccine exemptions from schools, the exemption rate for Kindergarteners has risen from 0.3 percent to 2.15 percent for the 2018-19 school year.
In the Brazos Valley, the numbers vary considerably from district to district. For example, for the 2018-19 school year, 0.6 percent of Bryan ISD kindergarteners received nonmedical vaccination exemptions. In College Station ISD, it was 1.97 percent. In Iola ISD, 12.12 percent of kindergarteners received nonmedical exemptions, one of the highest in the area.
Look up your school district, charter school or private school here. You can even track the trends in your district back to 2006.
Mary Parrish with the Brazos County Health District joined First News at Four to explain why vaccination rates matter.
“It’s herd immunity,” said Parrish. “The idea is that enough people are vaccinated that even those who can’t be vaccinated, like young babies, will be safe.”
Herd immunity doesn’t happen, however, if vaccination rates aren’t high enough. For measles, the threshold for herd immunity is 83-94 percent.
“But ideally, we’d have 100 percent vaccination,” said Parrish.
See the video player above for the full conversation.