The Breakdown - exemptions to vaccines in Texas

Should the State of Texas allow parents to skip vaccinating their children? Following the report of five measles cases in the Houston area, we learn who can and cannot skip that process and why.

It is absolutely possible that the students sitting next to your children at school has not been vaccinated, and you would have no way to know that. Texas law allows for several exceptions to vaccination requirements. 

  • Medical - A doctor can write a note saying the vaccine would be harmful to your child or someone in the family.
  • Military - If you can prove you were serving in our military on active duty and thus unable to get your vaccine, you are exempt. This does not apply to family of active duty military, and obviously wouldn't apply to most school-aged children.
  • Religious - This can range from the belief that vaccinations interfere with God's intentions to religious issues with specific ingredients used in the actual vaccines.
  • Philisophical - The most controversial of exceptions as Texas is one of only 17 states that allows parents opt out of vaccinating their kids for any personal reason with a signed affidavit and no questions asked.

A student who is not vaccinated based on anything other than medical reasons might be told not to come to school if an epidemic occurs.

What the state of Texas does not allow is for a child to go unvaccinated because you couldn't get them to the doctor on time or you couldn't afford the shots.

But what if you're uninsured or your insurance doesn't cover vaccines? You can apply to the Texas Vaccines for Children Program, which makes vaccinations available at low costs. There is also a version for adults called the Adult Safety Net Program. Information on both are on the Texas Department of State Health Services website.

There are three bills currently looking to change Texas immunization law. One would give access to a first responder's immunization history during a disaster. Another would require schools report all vaccine exemptions. And the third would require insurance plans cover all government-recommended vaccines with no co-pay or deductibles.