With childhood measles making a comeback, and more and more 'anti-vaxxer' parents refusing to get their kids inoculated, infectious disease experts are worried about an outbreak as the new school year begins, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine, who is among the leading experts on infectious disease in the world, tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that all signs point to trouble.
"We have seen a steep rise in the nubmer of kids not receiving their routine childhood immunizations," Hotez says, "According to the Texas Health Department, we are up to 64,000 kids."
Even though school district's cite 'no shots to school' policies, state law allows parents to 'opt out' of mandatory vaccinations, either on religious or personal grounds. More studies show that a misguided and completely debunked belief that vaccines cause autism and other childhood diseases continues to attract gullible parents through web sites.
"We find ourself in this very frightening new world where ten, twenty, thirty, or forty percent of the kids are not bein immmunized," he said.
Hotez is worried that a lack of what is called 'herd immunity,' where if 98 or 99 percent of children do have their vaccinations, which was common in the 1980s and 1990s, that can protect the handful of children who don't have inoculations, usually due to medical problems which prevent them from getting their shots.
But Hotez says warns that measles can spread quickly through a school where forty percent of children don't have their vaccinations, and measles can be deadly to children.
Medical officials say vaccinations are a victim of the success of vaccines. Unlike in the 1950s, for example, when the polio vaccine put a stop to one of the most devastating childhood diseases ever, people could see how life was before the vaccine, and quickly rolled up their kids' sleeves. But today, infectious disease outbreaks are so rare, and their consequences so seldom seen, that people feel safe not getting vaccinations.