Medical Study Identifies Houston As Anti-Vaccine Hotspot

Harris County ranks seventh in the country for the number of unvaccinated kindergarteners

Greater Houston is a hotspot for people who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

That's according to a study published in the Public Library of Science's medical journal.

It finds that from 2015 to 2016, Harris County had 592 kindergarteners whose parents did not have them vaccinated for non-medical reasons.

Dr. Susan Wootton, pediatric infectious disease specialist at UT Health in Houston, said many of the parents she sees get their information from unreliable websites.

"And so when I'm meeting with them, I try to see what the sites are and then help guide them to reliable resources like the CDC or state health department," she said.

The numbers have gone up steadily since Texas allowed so-called non-medical exemptions for vaccines in 2003, Wootton said.

Houston is not the only metro area in Texas where researchers found high numbers of unvaccinated children. It is joined on the list by Austin, Fort Worth and Plano.

Across the country, the study identifies 15 anti-vaccine hotspots. Overall, 18 states have nonmedical exemptions.

Many of those who oppose vaccines base it on the myth that vaccination can cause autism.

In recent years, outbreaks of measles have been recorded across the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the U.S. before the measles vaccination program started in 1963. Cases have been reduced by 99 percent since.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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