Texans deserve better vaccination policies from their legislators

“Don’t California My Texas” has become the rallying cry of Texas Legislators and the Texas GOP, often used to deride the avocado-loving, personal-liberty-suppressing, liberal bastion of Austin. The Californication of Texas – not to be confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ smash hit – is a trend the Texas Freedom Caucus is avowed to reverse. To preserve personal liberties, the Caucus has taken potshots at making vaccination exemptions easier to obtain. Yet, expanding and utilizing exemptions is playing Russian roulette with the health of countless children. By now the GOP should have learned to be wary of all things Russian.

Three types of exemptions are available to parents in Texas — religious, medical, and the catch-all “reasons of conscience.” Children too ill or allergic to bear vaccinations rely on other vaccinated people to prevent illness from taking hold, known as herd immunity. Experts estimate that herd immunity occurs when 95 percent of the population is immunized.

The impact of looser vaccination rules is profound for Texans. On July 14th, in the face of a preventable mumps outbreak, UT Austin sent a campus-wide email warning students about the outbreak. Moreover, a Baylor College of Medicine study published in October of 2016 found 10 Texas counties hovering dangerously near losing herd immunity, solely on the…