Texas headwinds: The danger of anti-vaccination policies

In “Texas and its Measles Epidemics,” published in Public Library of Science Medicine (PLOS), I sounded an alarm about the real possibility that Texas will soon experience measles outbreaks. My rationale was straightforward: the measles virus is highly transmissible between humans, and once vaccination rates go below a certain threshold, we typically see epidemics of measles occurring.

This situation explains why terrible measles outbreaks affected California, Minnesota and several European countries in 2017. We are now at the point where measles epidemics can occur anytime in pockets of Texas where vaccination coverage has precipitously fallen, such as areas in and around Austin and Denton.

So far my PLOS piece, as well as a follow up one published in The New York Times, “How the Anti-vaxxers are Winning,” have not stimulated much activity. In fact, things may have just gotten worse. The policy director of The Immunization Partnership based in Texas recently reported how several bills that could prevent future measles outbreaks were defeated in the recent legislative session.

We’re now up to almost 50,000 children attending Texas public schools not receiving their regular immunization due to non-medical or “philosophical belief” exemptions from vaccines, and if we…