Vaccination fight heats up at Texas Capitol

Those attending a rally of pro-vaccination advocates gathered at the Texas Capitol Tuesday with a call to action. 

"When nothing happens, we've done our jobs,” said Rekha Lakshmanan with Immunization Partnership.

Those at the Capitol realize with new reports of outbreaks, there's work to be done.

"I think we need to speak up,” said Jinny Suh with Immunization Partnership. "I think it was important to show the people in this building there are enough of us that care about vaccines to be here for a rally

In a recent report from Blue Cross – Blue Shield, Austin is identified as being in the top five of metropolitan areas in the nation with parents refusing to give vaccinations to their children. In Texas, Austin is also noted as being well ahead of other major urban centers, according to the report.

The growing exposure risk is what brought Heather Cook and her son to the rally.

"I have 3 little boys and I want to protect their friends, they are all fully vaccinated but some of their friends have had leukemia as little kids and can’t get vaccinated,” said Cook, "and my mother died a year ago from complications of the flu, some I’m very passionate about vaccine preventable diseases."

A group of state lawmakers, including state Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), pledged to support efforts to increase the number of vaccinations.

"Clearly this is the kind of thing where we know what science tells us, we know we have rights to keep our communities healthy and safe,” said Howard.

Last week advocates of vaccines by choice were at the state Capitol for a rally.

They were there to support two bills that would restrict how vaccines are administered. HB 4274 by state Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) requires health care providers to get informed consent from a parent or guardian and to disclose risks. SB 2350 by state Sen. Bob Hall (R -Edgewood) would mandate the release of medical studies including evaluations on links to cancer, gene mutation, infertility and autism.

While Hall and Zedler said their legislation is about liberty, those at the Capitol Tuesday argued refusing to get vaccinated violates their personal Rights. Both bills remain in committee.

In a statement from Jackie Schlegel, an organizer with Texans for Vaccine Choice, they had more than 600 people at their rally last week. Schlegel also claimed they were harassed and promised the group will continue to push for what they consider to be a crucial human rights issue.