Cause for concern? Texas among states with highest rates of children who aren't vaccinated

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Vaccination rates in some places are dropping as a measles outbreak grows in the Pacific Northwest.

Health workers are taking drastic measures to keep the measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington from spreading.

There are now 22 confirmed cases in the area, with three more suspected. Of the 22 cases, 19 people were not vaccinated. That prompted Eyewitness News to look into our own vaccination statistics.

RELATED: What is measles? What to know about symptoms, vaccine and treatment

Texas has one of the highest rates of children who are not vaccinated in the U.S., partly due to a 2013 law allowing parents to opt out of getting their children immunized for medical reasons or conscientious and religious beliefs. There are 18 states that don't require children be vaccinated.

According to a recent healthcare poll, 78 percent of Texans say children should get vaccinated. About 13 percent of Texans say parents should be able to opt out.

The World Health Organization says the number of measles cases has grown 30 percent worldwide. It says "vaccine hesitancy" is one of their top 10 threats to global health in 2019.

We found that in districts across our area, more and more students are not getting vaccinated.

For example, during the 2015-2016 Houston ISD school year, 851 students (0.42%) were not vaccinated. The following year, the number of students not vaccinated rose to 1,012 (0.51%).

Many other districts also ticked up: Katy, Klein, Humble, Galveston, Clear Creek, Spring Branch, Montgomery, Pearland and Fort Bend, to name a few, all show an increase in children opting out when it comes to getting vaccinated.

You can search for the stats of your own child's district by clicking this link from Texas Health and Human Services. Organize your search by county, school, or vaccination.

Here are the top five schools in Harris County (by percentage) with the least amount of kindergartners vaccinated for measles:

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI SCHOOL 28.75%
PRIMROSE SCHOOL OF KELLIWOOD 35.71%
ROBERT M. BEREN ACADEMY 55.56%
THE CONNECTION SCHOOL OF HOUSTON 55.56%
ACADEMY OF ACCELERATED LEARNING INC. 58.25%

Aliza Stern, school nurse at Robert M. Beren Academy, contacted Eyewitness News regarding the Texas Health and Human Services' findings.

"I was out on maternity leave and my replacement wasn't as effective at collecting the necessary documentation for the report," Stern wrote via email. "Additionally, we are a very small school (less than 300 students). So, our percentages will be much higher than other schools for the same or even fewer students."

Stern also says that if students turn their immunization records in after the state collects the data in October, it doesn't factor into these numbers.

"According to the state, if we receive updated information about students, be it a missing immunization form or new immunization received, from the end of October through the beginning of December, we cannot include that on our report," she said.

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