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vaccinations

Texas House Backs Measure Barring Mandatory Vaccines For Foster Children

May 11, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

What started as Texas House members discussing a bill that would improve the state’s Child Protective Services agency turned into a heated debate over vaccines — and whether they should be required for children placed in foster care.

Courtesy of Southern Methodist University

Guilt, social pressure and even a doctor’s recommendation aren't enough to motivate low-income families to vaccinate their teenagers for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), according to research from Southern Methodist University.

To Test Zika Vaccines, Scientists Need A New Outbreak

Feb 23, 2017

Researchers are eager to test promising vaccines against Zika, the virus that sparked a global health emergency last year.

But uncertainty over whether the Zika epidemic will continue affects researchers' ability to finish testing vaccines. They need locations with an active viral outbreak to conduct large-scale human trials and make sure the vaccine actually protects against disease.

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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The New York Times recently reported on an ongoing health problem: People once vigilant about vaccinating their children aren’t nearly as careful about protecting themselves as they age – even though some diseases are particularly dangerous for older people. 

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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.

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Most years, Texas sees only about 20 cases of mumps statewide. But the current outbreak in North Texas includes more than twice that many in Johnson County alone. Cases also have been reported in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties. 

Georgia Moore was diagnosed with leukemia the day after her 10th birthday. The fourth-grader began an intense chemotherapy regimen, which left her immune system vulnerable and kept her from attending her small, private Montessori school in Austin, Texas.

But her younger sister Ivy was in kindergarten at the same school, where a handful of families opted out of vaccinating their children. That meant 6-year-old Ivy might bring home germs that could pose a risk to Georgia.

Federal health officials are urging all Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible, and are especially concerned that too few elderly people are getting vaccinated.

"Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable," Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters during a joint briefing Thursday with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Flu often does not get enough respect."

PAC Mobilizes To Defend Vaccine Exemptions In Texas

Apr 5, 2016
Cooper Neill/Texas Tribune

On a Friday night little over a year ago, a Texas mother of three was attending a school dance when she got a text message that stopped her cold.

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Manufacturers say the flu vaccine for this season is much more effective than last year’s. However, two new studies suggest flu vaccines in general may not work as well if you take statins.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the studies aren't definitive, but the results are provocative.

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College students, like grade schoolers, also face vaccinations before heading off to school. After hundreds of cases reported on college campuses a few years ago, Texas in 2011 required a shot against bacterial meningitis for all college students.

Dallas Republican Calls For Limiting Vaccine Exemptions

Feb 19, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

A 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.

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Flu activity remains high in North Texas.  Dallas County has reported five flu-related deaths this season. There have been two in Tarrant County.

With Texas and 45 other states reporting widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a flu epidemic. Part of the blame goes to the current flu vaccine. It's less effective against Influenza A or H3N2 - the more severe strain causing the majority of cases.

However, Dr. Glenn Hardesty says get the shot, if you haven’t already. The emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital talked about the vaccine and the flu season in this edition of KERA’s consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: UPS fails to deliver for thousands of customers, H1N1 claims 5 people in Texas, Dallas locals make the yearly YouTube roundup, and more.

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Senior citizens will have some extra protection this flu season: A new “high dose” version of the flu vaccine intended the boost the immune system of people 65 and older. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Dr. Adam McDaniel, an internist with Centennial Medical Center, explains how the new vaccine works.

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.

This is shaping up to be the worst year for whooping  cough in Texas since the 1960s. State officials report nearly 1,700 cases of pertussis so far in 2013. About half of those are in North Texas.

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Nothing says end of summer like back-to-school immunizations. And while school's not in session yet, the time is right to think about whether your kid needs any booster shots to go along with that new backpack. We've rounded up some resources to help you out. 

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Flu vaccine is in limited supply at Tarrant County Public Health Centers this week, and Dallas County reports shortages of pediatric doses.  The demand is high as flu cases rise in North Texas.

Dallas County Health officials say they cannot confirm a flu death.  Health Department director Zach Thompson says the Medical Examiner must determine cause of death, and that may take time.  He says until then, the girl’s death cannot be attributed to flu.

5 Key Questions In The Race Against Flu

Dec 12, 2012
Lance McCord / Flickr.com

Health officials say get a flu shot if you haven’t done so. The virus arrived early, hitting Texas and four other southern states harder than other regions. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Shantala Samart, an infectious disease specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talks about the flu strains being seen in Texas and why the virus showed up early.

The deadliest West Nile season in North Texas is coming to an end. In Tarrant County, environmental health manager David Jefferson says the numbers of human cases and infected mosquitoes have dropped significantly.

MedicineNet.com

Like the U.S. overall, Texas is seeing more cases of pertussis or whooping cough – nearly 1100 people have come down with it this year. Six have died. 

DISD: Immunize Now

Jul 16, 2012

Immunizations are required for all Texas public school students. District leaders say now’s the time to get the required shots, or your child could be turned away from class.

Coming of Age ... Immunizations

Mar 12, 2012
*MarS / (cc) flickr

Under a change to Texas law, adults can now track their immunizations through a state registry database that was formerly only available for children. But once adolescents turn 18 their records are purged unless they request otherwise. Texas doctors are worried about the loss of those records.

New and transfer students at Texas public and private colleges and universities must get a meningitis shot or they can’t move into the dorm or attend classes. KERA’s BJ Austin says that deadline is creating big demand for the vaccine.

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