Lewisville ISD parents continue to opt out of vaccine requirements

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lewisville ISD/Community Impact Newspaper

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lewisville ISD/Community Impact Newspaper

Image description
LFH-2019-06-19-1
Image description
LFH-2019-06-19-2
A growing number of parents in Lewisville ISD have filed for vaccine exemptions for their children since 2003, when state lawmakers made it legal to opt out for reasons of conscience. Previously, only medical or religious reasons were allowed.

The total number of vaccination exemptions for the school district grew 17% from 2014-15 to 2018-19, according to data obtained from the school district. In the 2018-19 school year, 1,568 of the district’s more than 52,000 students are not vaccinated.

Districts are required by law to report the number of conscientious exemptions to the Texas Department of State Health Services each year. In the 2018-19 school year, the rate of LISD students who had filed for conscientious exemptions rose to 1.95% compared with 1.02% in the 2012-13 school year.

The number of unvaccinated people has been growing not only locally but also across the nation. This year, the United States has experienced the largest measles outbreak since health care officials declared the disease eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Denton County Public Health Department has reported one measles case so far this year. Denton County Chief Epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez said the county also reported one case last year.

“The public should be informed that these diseases are out there, and they exist,” he said. “Whooping cough is something that does happen, measles as well and mumps—all of these are coming back.”

Herd immunity


LISD Director of Health Services Melanie Vincelette said exemptions can be filed for a single vaccine or multiple.

“There are many reasons a parent files,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just to delay getting a shot until they can find a provider. Or they want to avoid multiple shots at one time, and the child eventually gets all of the vaccinations, just not on the required timeline.”

Although the district’s exemptions continue to increase each year, the rate is still lower than those in surrounding ISDs. Denton ISD has a rate of 2.71%, and Argyle ISD has a rate of 4.97%.

Although the exemption rates continue to rise, Vincelette said she believes LISD’s campus vaccination rates are still high enough.

“Exemption rates are complicated and fluid,” Vincelette said. “There are various coverage rates per vaccine that the CDC considers ‘good’ coverage; 95% coverage rate for measles is considered good. LISD schools have a history of maintaining a general coverage rate of 95% and higher.”

But the concern for health officials is that the increasing number of unvaccinated people could eventually undermine what researchers call herd immunity. A population’s high vaccination rate helps slow the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, protecting the unvaccinated and people for whom vaccines are not fully effective.

A personal choice


Local resident Mary Barnes said vaccinations should not be forced on parents.

“I absolutely think the choice should be [left to] parents, or individuals in the case of adults, in particular in cases where there are genetic health issues, which are contraindications for vaccinations,” she said.

Barnes said her sons were fully vaccinated until ages 10 and 12. But after she had a negative reaction to a vaccination, she decided to stop further vaccines for them.

“People with specific genes are far more likely to have negative reactions to the vaccinations,” she said.

Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said there is always a risk of side effects with vaccinations. But he suggests vaccinations to protect those who can’t because of health issues or age.

“If everybody else is immunized, then [outbreaks are] going to be minimal,” he said. “But I also don’t want people to think that immunization is 100% [effective]. It never is. Again, as with any medication, people’s bodies respond differently. Even after immunization, you see people get sick, just because their immune systems didn’t respond, or didn’t respond sufficiently.”

Pending policy


At least one bill—Senate Bill 329—that did not pass in the Texas Legislature this session would have given parents the right to be informed about how many students at their child’s school are not vaccinated.

The bill would not identify the unvaccinated students or reveal any personal information. Also, the identity of the parent who requested the information would be protected.

“[Exemptions are] one of those areas of concern to a parent, and it’s information that already exists, so let’s give them all the information they can have,” said state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who authored the bill.

“[It’s] along the same lines of wanting to know how close a school is to infrastructure or what security is in place at a school.”

Emily Davis and Olivia Lueckemeyer contributed to this story.



By Sherelle Black
Sherelle joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2014 as a reporter for the Grapevine/Colleyville/Southlake edition. She was promoted in 2015 to editor of the GCS edition. In August 2017, Sherelle became the editor of the Lewisville/Flower Mound/Highland Village edition. Sherelle covers transportation, economic development, education and features.


MOST RECENT

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Denton County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
30 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Denton County

Denton County Public Health announced May 27 that an additional 30 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed locally, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 1,285.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Centennial is located in Frisco. (Courtesy Baylor Scott & White)
Baylor Scott & White Health to lay off 1,200 after reporting 'drastic drop' in visits

The layoffs represent 3% of the health system’s workforce.

Starting May 29, water parks will be able to open up to 25% capacity. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott issues proclamation allowing water parks to open

Starting Friday, May 29, water parks will be allowed to open but must limit guests to 25% of their normal operating capacity.

Here are the latest coronavirus case updates for Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village. (Community Impact Staff)
The latest: coronavirus cases, recoveries by ZIP code in Lewisville, Flower Mound, Highland Village

Denton County Public Health announced May 26 that an additional 22 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed locally, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 1,255.

The city of Keller’s first hotel, a Hampton Inn & Suites, is expected to open May 28. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
New hotel and small-business grants: News from the DFW area

Read Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Dallas-Fort Worth area here.

The flute section of the Rouse High School marching band from Leander performs in this 2017 file photo. (Courtesy Leander ISD)
Texas schools may begin hosting sports workouts, band practices June 8

The University Interscholastic League released guidelines for allowing sports workouts and marching bands to practice.

The business opened in the Richardson Heights Shopping Center 16 years ago. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact)
ROUNDUP: How DFW businesses are faring amid COVID-19

Here are 10 recent updates on the metroplex business and restaurant community, with stories on new businesses opening, old businesses struggling, owners making innovations and more.

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that independent, freestanding ERs in Texas and several other states can be recognized health care providers eligible for reimbursement for treating Medicaid and Medicare patients during the coronavirus pandemic. (Cherry He/Community Impact Newspaper)
Freestanding ERs in Texas can now care for Medicaid, Medicare patients during pandemic

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that independent, freestanding ERs in Texas and several other states can be recognized health care providers eligible for reimbursement for treating Medicaid and Medicare patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mimi Conner (right) unloads food from her car after picking up nonperishable foods from the North Texas Food Bank and purchasing foods from Aldi, with help from volunteer Michelle Leavitt. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
North Texas Food Bank says new donation will provide 300,000 meals for residents in need

The North Texas Food Bank received a $100,000 donation from online retailer Amazon as the nonprofit continues to provide meals for residents in need.