Last Friday, Advocate shared results of a study published in JAMA Open Network, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Conductors of the study, including 3 PhDs, two medical doctors and 3 scientists with advanced degrees, had a warning – they were predicting a ‘large measles outbreak’ in Dallas, in part due to increased numbers of students whose parents had secured exemptions from vaccination.
Though several schools in the metroplex reported exemption rates above the threshold 5%, only one campus in Lake Highlands made the list – Scofield Christian School. Officials there received phone calls Friday from concerned parents, and Head of School Dr. Traci Tucker issued a statement via email.
“The report we submitted was only for one grade level required by the state,” wrote Tucker. “Out of 37 students in that specific grade, 4 had an exemption, thus putting us above the 5%. Overall though, our records show we had a total of 7 students last year whose parents filed affidavits for exemption from the MMR. Some of the students were getting the vaccination at a slower pace. Thus they received 1 MMR, but not the second booster. Last year the number of students at Scofield was 190, so 7 exemptions would be below the 5%, making the information in the article skewed.”
In a phone call, Tucker said her school follows state rules in requesting documentation from parents to ensure they have vaccinated their children or received an exemption from their child’s physician.
“That number is skewed and doesn’t reflect the big picture,” Tucker told me. “We are very diligent in getting information to parents. They are given letters, and if they have an affidavit they must have a doctor’s note. If they don’t, they are not allowed back at school.”
Health reasons for delaying or declining vaccination include allergies and asthma, she noted.
“I feel like this is more a question of fear,” said Dr. Tucker Friday. “I think there is a lot of fear, not just in Lake Highlands, but in the U.S.”
CBS 11 reported a full list of Dallas schools with measles rates above 5%, and you may view their map of campuses here.
The Centers for Disease Control reported 1,215 cases of measles in the first 8 months of 2019 – the most in the U.S. since 1992. There were 372 cases in all of 2018, 120 in 2017 and 86 in 2016.
“If these outbreaks continue through the summer and fall,” wrote the CDC, “the United States may lose its measles elimination status. That would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health.”
“Measles is preventable,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, M.D., “and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated. Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, they do not cause autism. The greater danger is the disease the vaccination prevents. Your decision to vaccinate will protect your family’s health and your community’s well-being.”