Texas used to vaccinate only 11 percent of its children. Now it's up to 74 percent.
"Texas has a wonderful story to tell. We used to be dead last in immunization rates around the country. And we're very proud to have come up to 12th place," said Anna Dragsbaek, president of the Immunization Partnership.
Dragsbaek helped turn the low vaccination rates around and was given an award for it by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"When we had those low immunization rates, I think it took everyone by surprise and we had an outbreak of measles," Dragsbaek said.
Dragsbaek says the measles outbreak was a wake up call. Texas opened clinics, like the San Jose Clinic, to offer low-cost or no-cost vaccines. The state used an electronic vaccine registry. It improved, but there are still outbreaks of preventable diseases, like the pertussis outbreak we're having now.
"Those outbreaks are really directly because people have stopped immunizing their children, first of all because they're worried about vaccine side effects. Vaccines are safe and effective and if you have concerns about how safe they are, you really need to talk to your doctor," Dragsbaek said.
She says people get complacent because most have never seen a vaccine-preventable disease. But she has. While in the peace corps, she saw a man die of tetanus.
"I'll never forget that experience of watching a man die from a disease that was 100 percent preventable," Dragsbaek said.
Since Jan. 1, college students under 30 must be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis
Parents of seventh graders, you'll need to be sure your child has the meningococcal vaccine, the varicella vaccine, and a Tdap booster.
For entering kindergarten students, Texas now requires a two-dose varicella vaccine, a two-dose MMR vaccine and a two-dose hepatitis a vaccine.
Other new vaccines requirements:
- Meningococcal Vaccine
- Beginning SY 2009-10, 7th grade requirement
- Varicella Vaccine
- Beginning School Year (SY) 2009-10, 2 dose requirement for kindergarten and 7th grade entry
- Tdap Vaccine
- Beginning SY 2009-10, a booster dose requirement for Tdap for 7th grade
- MMR Vaccine
- Beginning SY 2009-10, 2 dose requirement of MMR vaccine for kindergarten entry
- Hepatitis A Vaccine
- Beginning SY 2009-10, 2 dose requirement for kindergarten entry statewide