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Parent shares concerns over student vaccination exemptions

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Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 17:10:47-04

The Texas Medical Association reports that Texas is ranked number one in "hotspots" for vaccine exemptions.

It's a growing concern for Roxy Joiner. Her oldest son just started school at Tennyson Middle School in Waco. She also has a toddler at home with medical problems.

"With congenital heart defects comes a very, very low immune system," Joiner said. "He's one of the lucky ones. He's able to get vaccinations but it's still very dangerous for my oldest son to bring germs home."

Joiner said she constantly has her oldest son wash his hands, use hand sanitizer and disinfect himself with a spray before he enters their home. 

"There's a lot of kids out there that rely on knowing that the people around them can fight these illnesses because they cannot," Joiner said. 

According to the Texas Medical Association, the cities with the highest numbers are Houston, Fort Worth and Austin. 

The Texas annual report of immunization status for 2017-18 shows low numbers for Waco ISD. The number of exemptions is at just 0.23 percent, that's about 35 students out of more than 15,000.

Kelly Craine is a public health information specialist with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. She's happy to see that exemption numbers are low, but not surprised.

"The majority of parents recognize that this is important for their child's health and it makes a difference, so we really don't see a lot of issues, we're very fortunate here," Craine said.

She added that those who choose to not vaccinate their children are simply doing what they think is best for their health.

"For their children, they're trying to do their best and we need to respect that," Craine said. "We just encourage them to make sure they have a good relationship with their physician and learn more about really how good vaccines and how they really make a difference in keeping your kids healthy."

Craine said they will continue to push for vaccinations to prevent illnesses from spreading to the entire community.

Joiner agrees and hopes that more parents take this step to keep other families safe.

"Medical science has given us the ability to fight a lot," Joiner said. "We need to take advantage of what we have to keep our kids safe."

To view the numbers for other districts, click here

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