Overall, Texas’ immunization rates are pretty good, but there is much work to be done to meet the Healthy People 2020 recommendations. There even are worrisome signs that they’re headed in the wrong direction, including a 19-fold increase since 2003 in the number of parents seeking non-medical exemptions so that their children can attend public schools without being vaccinated.
Every two years, we at The Immunization Partnership undertake an extensive need assessment to examine vaccination coverage rates and trends. We talk with hundreds of stakeholders across the state in townhall style meetings and survey stakeholders statewide to determine what the greatest barriers and priorities are to achieving and maintaining high vaccination rates. And we dive into research to help identify potential underlying causes and the steps that might best help Texas protect its communities from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The culmination of this six-month data collection process is our report, “A Time for Action: Recommendations for Improving Texas Immunization Rates,” which outlines some clear recommendations on what Texans can do both legislatively and through community education and outreach.
As it happens, the report’s release coincides with a current outbreak of mumps in North Texas, in which more people have caught the disease than Texas usually sees statewide in an entire year.
“We have an opportunity right here and now to fight preventable diseases and improve the health of Texas children and families with the sensible, low-cost steps outlined in this report,” said Anna C. Dragsbaek, TIP's President and CEO. “It would be a shame to move backward after all we have done to prevent death and lifelong impairment from such dangerous diseases as measles and polio in our state and nation.”
The report’s recommendations include:
- Helping parents get better information about school health by requiring the government to transparently report vaccination rates at individual schools.
- Reversing the trend on non-medical exemptions to vaccines—those based on personal belief rather than medical need--by requiring online education before a student receives such an exemption.
- Preventing HPV-related cancers by gleaning more information on vaccination rates at the local level, so that resources can be better and more efficiently targeted, and by allowing minors to consent to their own vaccination against this cancer-causing virus.
- Changing the state’s vaccination registry to an opt-out system – meaning that children would be automatically enrolled unless their parents take simple steps to be excluded from the system – in order to improve information at the registry and reduce paperwork so that health care providers can spend valuable time on providing quality medical services.
Our aim is for the report not only to help guide policy going forward, but for all people concerned about preventable diseases and improved health for Texans to find a wealth of valuable information in one place.
The report is now available online. Check it out!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: