HOUSTON — Health experts said vaccinating kids for the measles is the only real way to protect them against the virus.
However, families in Texas can opt out of giving their children the MMR vaccine for medical, religious, or personal reasons and still go to school.
Dr. Catherine Troisi, epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health, said measles is one of the most contagious viruses out there.
Every year Texas Health and Human Services requires school districts and accredited private school to turn in a report of student’s immunization status.
Of the 83 percent of schools surveyed last year, almost 57,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students had a personal exemption on file.
Dr. Troisi said most people have to get the vaccine for it to stop the spread of the virus.
“We need a very high percentage. Probably around 90-95 percent, closer to the 95 percent level,” Dr. Troisi said.
Many of the school districts around the Houston area are above 95 percent for the MMR vaccine. But there’s some that don’t make the cut.
Galveston ISD has the lowest number of kids vaccinated at just below 90 percent.
The biggest school district, Houston ISD, is almost 93 percent. Alief and Humble ISD aren’t too far behind.
When it comes to actual schools, the lowest on the list is St. Francis of Assisi.
The private school in Houston is the only school under 30 percent.
The lowest public school is Academy of Accelerated Learning. It comes in at just over 58 percent.
Overall Texas schools have high coverage rates for the MMR vaccines, but experts want to see every kid is vaccinated for measles to become a thing of the past.