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Pew Research Center

Most adults support routine childhood vaccinations for children. That’s the conclusion of a new, nationwide Pew Research Center survey. Still, in Texas, there’s a growing group of parents who oppose mandatory childhood vaccinations. 

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Texas allows parents to have their kids opt out of vaccinations for measles, mumps and other diseases. Two years ago, California stopped allowing those exemptions; a similar Texas effort fell short. This session in Austin, the sponsor of that bill isn't trying to end the "conscientious" exemption. His allies are using a different strategy.

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In the past few months there have been several outbreaks of mumps — a handful of cases linked to a Halloween party in Dallas and more to cheerleading contests in North Texas. As for measles, there have been fewer cases in Texas. But in 2013, there was an outbreak tied to a church northwest of Dallas. 

With that in mind, some experts predict Texas could soon be at the center of a nationwide debate over highly contagious diseases and vaccinations.

Leanne Winkler / KEDT

A letter from the Texas Medical Association came across the desks of KERA this week with a pretty startling headline: “The Next Disneyland Could Be Plano.” It’s a reference to the measles outbreak that’s spread to 18 states and the nation’s capital.

Texas Republican Calls For Limiting Vaccine Exemptions

Feb 6, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

A North Texas Republican is taking aim at a provision in state law that allows parents with personal or religious objections to vaccines to opt their children out of school immunization requirements.

WNYK2012

The measles cases connected to a North Texas mega church may have run their course.

This morning, Tarrant County epidemiologist Russ Jones told County Commissioners there have been 21 overall cases in the cluster, 16 in Tarrant, the rest in Denton County. The onset of the latest case was August 21st, and Jones says if there are no new cases confirmed this week, that’s likely the end of the North Texas outbreak.

Luciana Christante / Flickr

When it comes to medical advice, most people turn to their doctor. But in some places, it’s the religious leader whose words resonate. In one North Texas community, parishioners followed guidance from pastors who said to turn to faith before medicine. And this month, more than twenty of them became sick with the measles.

Texas students had to get up to date on vaccinations to return to school today – especially the measles shot. An outbreak of the viral disease in North Texas has hit Tarrant County hardest. Many of the 15 cases traced back to a person who traveled out of the country where measles is more common. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Tarrant County epidemiologist Dr. Russell Jones talks about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A long line formed outside the Dallas County Health and Human Services building on Friday. Most were parents waiting to get their child immunized before the first day of school on Monday.

Schools require that students be up to date on all of their required shots, but the recent outbreak of measles in North Texas may also have prompted some parents to take immunization more seriously.