There is a measles outbreak in Texas and medical officials are pointing the finger directly at 'anti-vaxxers,' who refuse to get their kids inoculations, falsely believing that vaccines are dangerous, News Radio 1200 WOAI report
five cases of measles have been confirmed in the Houston metro area, but the disease is spreading, with one confirmed case in Central Texas, and two other non confirmed cases of measles.
Dr. Cherise Rohr-Allegrini of the Immunization Partnership in San Antonio says there is no reason for measles to be a problem in 2019.
"We have seen measles increase in the last few years, because more and more kids are not vaccinated against it," she said.
Measles is highly contagious. It is estimated that if one person has an active case of the measles, nine out of ten unvaccinated people who comes in contact with that individual will get the disease. And failure to obtain the standard Mumps, Measles, Rubella vaccine, which is routinely given to babies and later to four year old, damages the 'herd immunity' which is enjoyed with vaccinations.
Rohr-Allegrini says, while it is state law to get kids vaccinated, there are many loopholes in that law, and she says it is time for the Legislature to look at closing those loopholes.
"We need to start tightening up the law," she said. "It is very easy to get an exemption. We also have to start explaining to people more and more why it is important to get vaccinated."
Measles can, in addition to the standard skin rash, lead to dangerous complications, including ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, or even death.
The Immunization Partnership calls this outbreak a 'wake up call' for Texas to get serious about having children and adults vaccinated.
She says while 90.3 % of Texas children are immunized against measles (more than 96% in Bexar County) there are areas where those numbers are far lower.
"some communities, that can be as low as 70 to 80 percent," she said. "That means you have a lot of people who are at risk."
Interestingly, unlike most conspiracy theories, anti-vaxxers tend to be upscale and well educated. At one high dollar private high school in Austin, only 50% of the students have gotten the MMR vaccine, which leaves all of the students and their families open to getting measles.
The anti-vaxxer conspiracy theory dates back to the late 1990s, when a new discredited research paper written by a doctor who has since lost his medical license postulated that the preservative which is commonly used in vaccines may be tied to autism.
Since then, numerous medical studies have shown no connection between any ingredient of a vaccine and autism or any other childhood condition, and have in fact proven that not vaccinating children is extremely dangerous.