New numbers from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services show the rise in the 'anti vaxxer movement' in Texas, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
As the new school year approaches, the figures show that some 57,000 students statewide are utilizing the 'parental exception' option and not getting the inoculations that are required for students to start class.
"We are the point now where at any time we could start seeing breakthrough childhood infectious disease outbreaks like measles and other diseases," Dr. Peter Hotez, an internationally respected immunologist at Baylor College of Medicine, told News Radio 1200 WOAI.
A recent new survey indicated that anti vaccine attitudes are fading among Texas conservatives, but the 'anti vaxxer' movement has always been bigger among Democrats. In fact, the county in the nation which has the largest percentage of people who believe that childhood vaccines are dangerous and have been linked to conditions like autism is Marin County Calforning, north of San Francisco and one of the most liberal counties in the country.
Hotez and other immunologists point out that allegations of dangers inherent in vaccines have long since been debunked, and a British doctor who started the 'anti vaxxer' movement with a study in the 1990s has lost his medical license. Immunologists are concerned about a lack of 'herd immunity,' which occurs when enough students in a close environment like a school don't get vaccinations, allowing diseases to seep in and infect others.
"It is mainly affluent families, educated families, or as I like to say...educated enough to do a Google search, but not educated enough to know what they are Googling," Dr. Hotez said.
In Bexar County, the school with the largest number of exemptions is the Great Hearts Charter School, with 7.41% of students not receiving vaccinations.
Among ISD's, the one with the largest percentage of parents opting their kids out of mandatory vaccinations is Alamo Heights, with 1.95% of students not vaccinated.
The percentage of unvaccinated students in other large ISD's:
JUDSON ISD -- 0.56%
NORTH EASTISD -- 1.17%
NORTHSIDE ISD -- 0.87%
SAN ANTONIO ISD -- 0.39%
The school with the highest percentage of unvaccinated students in Texas is the private Austin Waldorf School, where 49% of students have opted out of mandatory vaccinations.The annual tuition at the Waldorf School is $17.995 at the high school level.