AUSTIN, Texas - Once approved and widely available, getting everyone to trust the COVID-19 vaccine will be no small feat.
Anti-vaccination sentiments in the U.S. have been growing the last few years, and that's especially true in Texas. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, non-medical vaccine exemptions increased 28-fold from 2003 to 2016. State officials have also reported that vaccination rates have dropped by 33% during the pandemic.
But despite those statistics, most anti-vax bills have failed to get support from Texas lawmakers. That's according to new research from Rice University's Baker Institute, which found that state legislators still generally view the issue as non-partisan.
“Anti-vaccine activists have certainly been drumming up noise inside the Capitol, but fortunately it hasn’t translated into policy implementation,” said Rehka Lakshmanan, one of the authors of the Rice study and the director of policy and advocacy at The Immunization Partnership in Houston.
A poll out Wednesday from the Associated Press shows 49% of adults surveyed plan to get vaccinated, 20% say they won’t, and 31% are undecided.
“The researchers say we need to have high coverage rates, anywhere from 70% plus,” Lakshmanan said.
She says lawmakers and other state leaders need to use the data about who’s getting the COVID-19 vaccine to inform public health officials about where more education is needed to let the public know about the benefits of the vaccine.