Let’s not reserve our outrage for the likes of Jonathan Stickland, the buffoonish far-right Texas House member from Bedford who attacked a prominent infectious disease expert on Twitter recently and equated Dr. Peter Hotez’s life-saving vaccine research to “sorcery.”
Let’s save some ire for folks who know better and say nothing.
Gov. Greg Abbott and legislative leaders in Austin surely know that Texas has seen a 2,000 percent increase in vaccine exemptions since 2003, the year we began allowing parents to decline required immunizations for non-medical reasons. Texas saw a 14 percent increase last year alone.
We hope Abbott and the others saw the story Friday by the Chronicle’s Todd Ackerman on a study showing Harris County is one of the nation’s most vulnerable counties to an outbreak of the highly contagious, potentially fatal virus that was largely eradicated two decades ago.
Why? International travel mixed with the dangerous prevalence of parents opting out of once-mandatory shots for their children, according to the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Yet, Abbott and others say little to counter the myths invented in debunked scientific research, half-truths and conspiracy theories of the growing anti-vaccine movement.
In 2015, spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said in a Chronicle story that the governor recognized the public health benefits of vaccines and encouraged all parents to have their children vaccinated, as he and the first lady did with their daughter.
But Abbott “supports current Texas law that he believes strikes the right balance of requiring vaccinations while still allowing parents to opt out under certain circumstances,” Chasse added.