July 24, 2018
Most Republican voters want schoolchildren to have their
shots before going to school, according to a recent Texas survey.
The new survey, taken in mid-July, finds Texas Republican primary voters overwhelmingly
support school immunization requirements, and strongly believe school-entry
vaccine requirements protect Texas children.
“It is heartening to see that huge numbers of Texas
Republican primary voters choose to protect our schoolchildren from disease and
endorse reducing the number of tragic, vaccine-preventable deaths as a proper
role of the government,” said John Carlo, MD, chair of the Texas Public Health
Coalition (TPHC), which commissioned the study.
More than eight in 10 respondents (86 percent) said they support requiring
school-age children to be immunized to attend public school.
Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) said they “strongly support” such
People surveyed also strongly oppose allowing parents to opt out
— for nonmedical reasons — of providing their schoolchildren required vaccines (68
percent strongly or somewhat oppose nonmedical opt-outs). Since 2003, Texas has
seen a more-than-2,000-percent increase in vaccine exemptions — sometimes
called conscientious objections — in Texas public schools. Nonetheless,
statewide vaccination rates for Texas kindergarteners and seventh graders
remain above 96 percent, according to the Texas Department of State Health
“Clearly, vaccine opponents do not speak for the vast
majority of Texas Republican primary voters,” Dr. Carlo said.
Opinions were even stronger when people were asked
whether their personal views more closely align with laws requiring
vaccinations for school entry (79 percent agreed, saying vaccines provide
protection against contagious diseases, and the laws should be enforced).
Conversely, just 16 percent said they agree with parents’ choice not to
vaccinate their child before enrolling him or her in school.
Survey participants also strongly believe schools should report
the number of unvaccinated children enrolled; nearly 80 percent
believe that number should be available to the public (61 percent strongly
support it). Texas lawmakers failed to pass a “Parents’ Right to Know” bill
filed last legislative session to require school-level opt-out numbers reporting.
Parents can obtain vaccination opt-out rates only on a district-wide basis.
Proponents argue school-level data would allow parents of children who are
highly susceptible to diseases to choose safer school environments.
The government should have a role in reducing the number
of vaccine-preventable deaths, according to more than two-thirds (67 percent)
of voters who participated in the immunization survey. Nearly half of the survey
participants (49 percent) also said they would be less likely to support a
legislator who votes against vaccine requirements. One-third said they would be
much less likely to support that lawmaker, while more than one-quarter of
others were uncertain.
numbers tell us Republican lawmakers who stand up for healthy children should
have nothing to fear from extremists who don’t reflect the views of most
of their party’s voters, nor the general public for that matter,” said
Dr. Carlo. “On the other hand, Republican primary voters are less likely to
support an elected official who votes against vaccine requirements.”
Research Partners polled 750 Republican 2018 primary voters across Texas for the
scientific survey. Interviews were conducted July 7-10, 2018, by telephone,
including landlines and cell phones. The margin of error for this study is +/-4
TPHC is a coalition of more than 30 health
professional organizations and health-focused organizations dedicated to
disease prevention and health promotion. The coalition works to reduce
preventable disease by advancing effective public policies that promote a safe
and healthy environment and healthy behaviors for all Texas residents.
Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Marcus Cooper (512)
370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org