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Vaccination Rates and a Cat Circus: Friday’s Show (February 20, 2015)

As of Friday (2/20/15), there are 141 reported cases of the measles in the United States this year, and 98 are from California. (Just one, so far, is from Texas). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most who have contracted the measles were not vaccinated. Health officials have taken the opportunity to […]


As of Friday (2/20/15), there are 141 reported cases of the measles in the United States this year, and 98 are from California. (Just one, so far, is from Texas). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most who have contracted the measles were not vaccinated. Health officials have taken the opportunity to demonstrate how vaccinations not only protect children from disease, they protect the rest of the general public as well.

And yet, long-standing myths about vaccines causing certain diseases, which have been repeatedly debunked, persist. And some people still refuse to vaccinate their kids. Here in Texas, parents can seek a “conscientious exemption” from getting their children vaccinated. While the percentage who do this is typically very low — less than one percent of the population statewide — rates are generally on the rise in some area counties (see chart below), and some schools in the Greater Houston area report as many as ten percent of their student population isn’t vaccinated.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss vaccination rates in Greater Houston, and welcome your questions and comments for Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist with UTHealth. We also hear from Anna Dragsbaek, the CEO of the Houston-based Immunization Partnership.

Also this hour: We discuss municipal broadband with Dwight Silverman, tech blogger and social media manager at the Houston Chronicle.

Plus: A lot can happen in a week. Some of it good. Some of it bad. Some of it downright ugly. When faced with intriguing developments in the week’s news, we turn to our rotating panel of non-experts to parse The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of it all. Today: Aurora Losada of La Voz de Houston, “Native Texan” columnist Joe Holley, and Marcus Davis, owner of The Breakfast Klub restaurant, discuss immigration, developments in the equal rights ordinance trial,  mismanagement of student records at Spring ISD, and native Houstonian filmmakers Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson up for best picture at this Sunday’s Academy Awards.

(MORE: Craig’s conversations with Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson)

And: Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty takes us to a cat circus. Because — well, do we need a reason?

Percentage of Students with a Conscientious Exemption (Source: Texas Department of State Health Services)

Counties 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
Chambers 0.25% 0.19% 0.48% 0.44%
Fort Bend 0.32% 0.39% 0.45% 0.57%
Galveston 0.53% 0.69% 0.78% 0.91%
Harris* 0.33% 0.39% 0.43% 0.57%
Liberty 0.25% 0.34% 0.29% 0.39%
Montgomery 0.88% 1.06% 1.17% 0.72%
Waller 0.07% 0.30% 0.33% 0.55%

*In Harris County, the percentage of students with such conscientious exemptions during the 2013-2014 school year reached a four year high, though still at a relatively low 0.57%.

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