Anti-vaxxers in Texas are trying to exploit a loophole in state law to allow conscientious exemptions to vaccines for children in day care.
Texans for Vaccine Choice is calling for families whose unvaccinated children were rejected from private day care facilities to present their stories to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to end those denials, reported the Houston Chronicle.
State law requires vaccines for children at licensed facilities, but the anti-vaxxer organization says child care facilities regulated by the state can forego those requirements if parents have a medical or conscience exemption.
Legal experts dispute their interpretation of the statute, but Texans for Vaccine Choice argues child care facilities cannot lawfully deny the exemptions.
“[Parents of unvaccinated kids] have to continue to seek out facilities that are choosing to comply with the law,” said Rebecca Hardy, the group’s director of state policy. “They may not be getting their first, second or third child care facility choice, so they are having to lower their standards in order to get their children care.”
The group’s lawyer declined to say whether they would push for legislation that would require child care providers to accept children who haven’t been vaccinated.
The state reported 56,738 Texas students from kindergarten to 12th grade claimed a conscientious vaccine exemption, but the average vaccination rate among all Texas students remains above 95 percent.
The Texas Department of State Health Services hasn’t surveyed vaccination rates for day care facilities since 2013.
Allison Winnike, president and CEO of the pro-vaccine Immunization Partnership, said Texans for Vaccine Choice had wrongly interpreted the statute, which she said did not require day care centers to enroll everyone — regardless of immunization status.
“Parents cannot simply ignore the vaccine laws or ask the child care center to ignore them,” she said. “They’re looking for loopholes to try to skirt the laws that the rest of us follow to protect the public’s health.”