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Will Republicans Act on Proposal to Collect Vaccination Info?

Earlier this year, it was an unexpected measles outbreak. Then on Wednesday, May 13th, the University of Texas at Austin reported its 3rd case of mumps.

With these traditionally rare diseases making the news, it's time to ask the question:

Will Texas make any progress in the fight to ensure Texas school children are vaccinated?

It may all come down to what Texas Republicans and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick decide to do with narrowly written legislation that has passed the Texas House and is currently awaiting to be scheduled for a committee hearing in the Texas Senate.

Here's what's going on:

  1. In 2003, Rick Perry signed a bill creating a loophole for Texans to opt-out of vaccinating their kids.
  2. Since that time, the number of students who aren't vaccinated in Texas has climbed from about 2,000 to nearly 40,000 statewide in 2014.
  3. Legislation to close this loophole - which allowed parents to not have to get their kids vaccinated for conscientious objections - died early on in session, after it's Republican author catched a lot of flack from anti-vaxxers.

The only legislation that addresses student vaccinations and still could pass the Legislature is House Bill 2474.

That bill requires the state to better collect and share information about:

  • De-identified immunization exemption information;
  • The number of students provisionally enrolled pending documentation of immunization;
  • The number of students claiming an exemption for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief;
  • The number of students claiming an exemption for a medical reason; and
  • The number of students whose vaccinations are not current.

That information will be made available to legislators and to parents, through publicly available websites.

It's not a lot - it doesn't close the loophole that has led to the rapid increase in the number of unvaccinated students in Texas schools. But it's a step in the right direction.

Now the question is - will Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Tea Party-dominated Texas Senate give it a shot?

We'll update at the end of session, once the fate of the bill is finally known.