AUSTIN, Texas -- More Texas students are going to school without receiving vaccines, and because of that, some state lawmakers and advocacy groups are pushing a bill that would allow parents to find out how many unvaccinated kids are in their child's school.
- 4 Texas cities identified as national hot-spots for non-medical exemptions
- Bill would allow parents to get immunization information about a specific school
- Records would not include names of students
Parts of Texas are considered national hot-spots for non-medical vaccine exemptions.
"We're really concerned right now about a measles outbreak," said Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.
The concern has led Seliger to propose a bill that would allow parents to easily get immunization information about a specific school. Currently they have to file an open records request to try to get access.
"Parents have every right to have all the information on things that potentially affect their children," said Seliger.
The records wouldn't include the names of individual students, just a percentage comparison of vaccinated students versus non-vaccinated students.
"So you as a parent can say, ‘Well at school A, my child has a little more protection against mumps, measles than at school B,’" said Seliger.
Jackie Schlegel with Texans for Vaccine Choice said making such information available to parents violates children's medical privacy.
"Parents of these children feel very threatened that this very sensitive information about their children, even if it's de-identified, is out there," said Schlegel.
Texas is one of 18 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children because of conscience or personal beliefs. Schlegel said her group will oppose any bill that infringes on parental rights.
"Parents have the ability to make medical decisions with their chosen medical providers. That is the best thing we can do, that is best for children, it's best for health care. It's best for patients," said Schlegel.
Seliger said he agrees with the parents’ rights aspect, but that those on the other side of the debate should be able to choose a school based upon immunization rates.
"It's not intended to be a violation of privacy, it is a simple public health issue," said Seliger.
According to a study published in the Public Library of Science last year, four Texas cities have been identified as national hot-spots for non-medical exemptions in schools: Houston, Fort Worth, Plano and Austin.