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Nearly 30,000 Texas Students Opt Out of Vaccinations
Nearly 30,000 Texas students are not vaccinated. The reason they aren't getting immunized? The Texas Department of State Health Services says their parents opted out.
It's a big decision. "I didn't anticipate that it would be, but ultimately it was kind of a difficult decision because you don't ever want to do anything to your child that's potentially going to hurt them," said Molly Martinez who has a seven-month-old daughter.
Molly and her husband, Manuel, ultimately decided to vaccinate their daughter, but not before doing their research. "You hear horror stories and it's scary," said Molly Martinez.
Not all parents come to the same conclusion. Sandy Headley, the Director of Health Services for Round Rock ISD, says the parents of 824 students choose not to vaccinate. This is a slight increase from last year. Austin ISD also reports a slight increase.
"A lot of time it's religious. Another reason is a lot of parents feel like it's not safe for their child and that it may cause Austism," said Headley.
We see the same increase statewide. Nearly 30,000 students didn't get shots. "If the parents have a religious belief or just a conscientious objection they can go to the state, get a form notorized and not get the vaccinations," said Headley.
At 1.74 percent, Travis County is one of the counties with the highest number of conscientious exemptions for childhood vaccinations. That's 2,806 students.
At the same time, Cindy Crouch with the Williamson County and Cities Health District says we're seeing an uptick in preventable diseases. "We're seeing an increase like in Pertussis."
84 cases of whooping cough were reported in Williamson County in 2012. The upper respiratory disease is very contagious and most severe for babies.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 1,635 students did not recieve vaccinations in Williamson County in the 2011-2012 school year.
For parents like Molly and Manuel it's a tough call, but the risks of diseases like whooping cough and measles outweighed the possible side effects.
"Our decision was vaccinating which could potentially hurt them, and not vaccinating which could potentially hurt them," said Molly Martinez.
By Deeda Payton