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Vaccine Exemptions Grow in Northwest Austin, Says Community Impact

Growing vaccine exemption rates was a main focus of the Community Impact Northwest Austin regional newspaper. With measle cases still climbing, now well exceeding 1,000 cases which is the most ever seen in a decade (and, yet, still several months to go in 2019) it is no wonder that vaccines are a “hot” topic. And it’s not just measles — the Austin community has seen outbreaks of whooping cough and even mumps.                                                                                          

Yet, conscientious exemptions to immunizations among Williamson County students in kindergarten through 12th grade is at the highest it has been in the past eight years, according to Community Impact. Travis County’s is “well above” Williamson County. Overall, exemptions in Central Texas exceed state and national levels.

We foreshadowed that an outbreak of this type was likely. It is the main reason we strengthened our policy in 2015 in that Austin Regional Clinic would no longer accept pediatric patients whose parents did not permit vaccinations. This policy followed a different, serious outbreak that took place at Disneyland where more than 125 people were infected with measles.

Our position was and continues to be safety — safety for our patients sitting in our waiting rooms and exam rooms who may have compromised immune systems where a disease like measles, mumps or whooping cough could be life-threatening for them, explained ARC pediatrician, Dr. Elizabeth Knapp to Community Impact.

We anticipated that some of our patients would be upset by this policy change but we knew we must accept that risk for the safety of all patients. What we didn’t expect was the overwhelming support from patients and non-patients, and how it opened up important doctor-patient discussions.

“After our policy went into effect we found many of our patients did choose to become vaccinated because they found trust in their doctor was very important,” Dr. Knapp said.

Thank you for trusting us.

Click here to read more about this topic in Community Impact.


Tags: Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, Immunizations, Community Impact, Vaccine exemptions, Patient safety

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