Parents want the best for their children, which is why they seek out information to make educated choices about their sons’ and daughters’ health. When it comes to vaccines, they want to be able to weigh what their pediatrician tells them against the frightening tales they might find on the Internet that make debunked claims about autism or mercury in relation to immunization.
Everyone should support parents’ quest for fact-based information, which is the intention behind HB 126, legislation that would provide an online course for parents who are considering not vaccinating their children. The course, which would be developed and provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services, would be required of parents before they could receive a non-medical waiver that allows them to send an unvaccinated child to public schools. The bill, authored by Rep. Sarah Davis, would provide parents with a quick and convenient way to learn the facts and then make up their own minds.
Here are the key things to know about HB 126:
- Parents would still make the decision about whether or not to vaccinate their children. The legislation wouldn’t change that in any way.
- Some parents are very set in their opinions about vaccinations and a course is unlikely to change that, though it would provide them with information they might otherwise not get. But many other parents refrain from vaccinating out of uncertainty rather than strongly held beliefs. The course would help them come to a decision and, it’s hoped, increase the number of vaccinated children in the public schools. That would make everyone—the children, their families, their classmates and the community as a whole—safer from vaccine-preventable disease.
- The bill would make things much more less expensive for parents than similar laws in other states that require health care providers to give parents a signed certificate after providing them with the information. There would be no need to pay for a doctor’s visit.
- Similarly, the bill provides much more convenience than laws in some other states. Parents wouldn’t have to take time off from work to get to the doctor’s, or travel to a medical office. Everything could be done in their homes, at whatever time they prefer.
- The online course isn’t expected to take much time for parents to complete, perhaps a half hour to one hour.
Whatever decision parents ultimately reach, we should all be able to agree that well-informed parents are likely to make the most thoughtful choices for their children. HB 126 provides a low-cost, convenient way to educate parents about a vital matter of health.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Texas Mom: Parents Have the Right to Know the Health of Schools
So Many Mumps Outbreaks -- and Now One in Texas
What is "vaccine shedding" and is it a threat?