Is Your School a Vaccine-Exemption Hot Spot?
By Steve Levine


Students have returned to public schools across the state, and most parents have ensured that their children have all the necessary immunizations. But an ever-growing number have not.  

Student vaccine exemptions have been steadily increasing since the Texas Legislature voted in 2003 to permit parents to claim conscientious objections. That year, 2,314 Texas schoolchildren claimed nonmedical exemptions from required immunizations. By the 2018-19 school year, the figure had ballooned to 64,176, according to DSHS. 

“The Texas Medical Association stands firm in our opposition to conscientious objections to mandatory school vaccines,” said TMA President David C. Fleeger, MD. “Reduced immunization rates can make our public schools once again breeding grounds for dangerous, contagious diseases.” 

You can look up exemption data for all public school districts, private schools, and magnet schools on the TMA website

Per the DSHS Annual Survey of Immunization Status, exemption rates for the state’s 10 largest public school districts are:

  • Austin ISD: 2.47%
  • Katy ISD: 1.49%
  • North East ISD: 1.21%
  • Arlington ISD: 1.12%
  • Cypress-Fairbanks ISD: 0.98%
  • Fort Bend ISD: 0.79%
  • Fort Worth ISD: 0.73%
  • Houston ISD: 0.57%
  • Dallas ISD: 0.53%
  • Aldine ISD: 0.20% 

Among private and charter schools, the Austin Waldorf School topped the list with a conscientious objection rate of 46.25%. 

Check out the Centers for Disease Control’s tips for talking to parents about vaccines as well as their handouts to share with parents. And you can always visit TMA’s online Immunization Resource Center for the latest news and materials.

Last Updated On

November 13, 2019

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Steve Levine

VP, Communication

(512) 370-1380
Steve Levine

A former statehouse reporter, political press secretary, and state agency spokesman, Steve Levine has directed the Communication Division at TMA since 1997. He oversees Texas Medicine, Texas Medicine Today, TMA's media and public relations activities, and the TMA Knowledge Center, website, and social media activities.

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