Proposal would make it easier for Texans to get vaccine exemptions

A bill filed in the Texas legislature would make it easier for people to get non-medical exemptions for vaccines.

This comes as the anti-vaxxer movement has garnered more attention in recent years, and with the number of vaccine exemptions going up in Texas.

Nearly 57,000 students had non-medical exemptions in 2018, compared to about 2,300 in 2004. There have been eight reported cases of measles in Texas so far in 2019, most in the Houston area.

House Bill 1490 was filed by Representative Matt Krause, who represents parts of Fort Worth, and it would change several things about how people file vaccine exemptions. Krause filed a similar proposal last session, but it didn’t get out of committee.

This year’s bill would make it easier for people to get vaccine exemption forms.

Currently, Texans can only get the form by putting in a written request to the health department, but if the bill is passed, it would make the forms available online.

The proposal would also stop the Texas Department of State Health Services from tracking vaccine exemptions. Currently, the Texas health department “shall maintain a record of the total number of affidavit forms sent out each year and shall report that information to the legislature each year.”

Krause's bill would change state law to say the health department “may not maintain a record of the number of affidavit forms submitted.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services is currently not allowed to track the names of those who file vaccine exemptions, and that would continue under the proposal.

Meanwhile, vaccine advocates are planning to speak to Texas lawmakers about doing away with non-medical vaccine exemptions.

The CDC says vaccines for measles are effective and safe. The introduction of the vaccine in the early 1960s effectively elminated the disease in the United States by the end of the century, according to officials.

But vaccine advocates, which include numerous medical professionals, say vaccine exemptions have led to the increase of outbreaks in Texas.