What Fort Worthians Have to Say About City Becoming Anti-Vaccine "Hotspot"


Fort Worth’s Shot in the Arm

When it comes to children getting vaccinated, a recent national study has stamped Tarrant County with the description of “hotspot” — a place where children are more vulnerable to preventable disease outbreaks. Last school year, over 55,000 Tarrant County students — kindergarten through grade 12 — filed nonmedical exemptions, which absolved them of receiving required vaccinations to prevent the outbreak of mumps, measles and more. Texas is one of 18 states that allow exemptions on the grounds of philosophical or religious beliefs.

We visited with everyday Fort Worthians on the streets to get their take on this statistic and whether nonmedical exemptions should be allowed. Here’s what they said:

Kay Ferris, 60, Certified Public Accountant

There are two reasons people don’t vaccinate their children. One is religious, because pharmaceutical companies use aborted fetus material in the vaccination.** And then there’s the belief that vaccines are unhealthy, so I support anybody who chooses not to vaccinate their children.

Kay Ferris, 60, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Ryan Christian

That is a little surprising, and a little saddening. Those anti-vaccers can cause health crises if their children aren’t vaccinated. I go to TCU, and we had a mumps outbreak, so anyone who hadn’t been vaccinated was at risk of getting the mumps.

Ryan Christian, 28, student

Megan Rhone

We want our son to be vaccinated, but we don’t want all of them to be thrown at him at once; we think that’s where the problem usually is.

Megan Rhone, 36, librarian

Caroline Polley

I do not believe in the flu vaccine — I’m data-driven; I am a health care professional. However, things like measles, mumps, rubella — all those things that you’re vaccinated for as a child, I’m in support of that. The efficacy has been proven over time.

Caroline Polley, nurse

Brendan Voss

It’s understandable that a parent would want their kids to be safe and secure, and it’s understandable that someone for a religious reason would say I don’t agree with that religiously. However, it is not just about seeing the intentions but seeing the actual results of such things.

Brendan Voss, 23, student

Beth Kush

Having a small child ... The thing that bothers me most is the ability to do conscientious waivers to still let kids go to public school without vaccinations. I’ve always felt really strongly about the public obligation to do vaccinations, and that’s the reason why we don’t have measles and other diseases.

Beth Kush, 37, engineer

** According to the World Health Organization, the only widely used vaccine derived from aborted human fetuses is the vaccine against rubella (German measles). WHO announced in 2015 that rubella had been eradicated in the Western Hemisphere, thanks, in large part, to vaccinations.

Vaccines by the #s

56,738: students in Tarrant County who are not vaccinated

194: nations that endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan, which sets up a framework to prevent deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases

1.5 million: deaths that could be prevented if global vaccination improves, according to the World Health Organization

86: percent of children worldwide who receive vaccinations

12: states that allow nonmedical exemptions (there are 18 total)
that have seen a recent rise in exemptions