Some Texas pediatricians are talking about not treating children who have not received the recommended childhood inoculations, as back to school approaches, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Even though all public school districts have 'no shots, no school' policies, officials say some 44,000 students without vaccinations will be allowed to enter classrooms, a record, because their parents have secured a 'waiver.' The main reason these waivers are granted is because a parent has a religious objection to inoculations, or because of an unfounded belief that the vaccination itself is dangerous, and can lead to autism or other conditions.
Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst, a pediatrician at U.T. Health San Antonio, says that has led to some physicians debating whether it is wise to treat children who have not been vaccinated.
"It makes you wonder if you have a child in your waiting room who has a weakened immune system, is that child in danger because that child is sitting next to a child without vaccines, who may be suffering from an illness like pertussus."
Dr. Van Ramshorst says the general feeling is to achieve what is called 'herd immunity,' which is when so many children have received vaccinations that a vaccine-preventable disease cannot spread, 95% of children must be vaccinated. Since that figure also includes children who cannot be vaccinated due to health conditions, like immune system deficiencies due to leukemia or diabetes, the number of children who have been vaccinated is in danger of falling below that 95% level in Texas, with potentially devastating results.
"As you know, Texas has had a couple of recent measles outbreaks," he said. "It is a vaccine preventable disease that we are seeing again.
Van Ramshorts, and almost all physicians, believe that the 'anti vaxxer' claim that there is some connection between vaccines and autism, has been debunked so thoroughly, it is time for the state to step in and revoke the opt out provisions for parents who still believe that.
"I personally feel that the only reason a child should not receive vaccines, is if there is a medical reason not to do so, their immune system is weak, they are on chemotherapy, they have another special medical condition."