AUSTIN (Nexstar) — When Riki Graves heard about the recent cases of measles popping up around Texas, she immediately started fearing for her daughter’s health. Juliana Graves was born in 2014 with a life-threatening heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She is a heart transplant recipient, and because of her weakened immune system, she can’t be vaccinated.
“The truth is, many of our hospital stays, they happen because of infectious disease,” Graves said. “And more than once, I suspect, because of someone choosing not to vaccinate themselves or their children. While we do everything we can to try to keep her safe from infections, it’s the decisions made by others that keep me up at night.”
Graves spoke during a rally at the Texas State Capitol, hosted by a group called Immunize Texas. A bipartisan group of four lawmakers — Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville — also spoke in favor of stronger vaccination policies in the state.
Rep. Sheffield, who is a family physician, voiced his concerns with people neglecting the facts about vaccines.
“It’s a little frustrating when people will pay more attention to my colleague, ‘Dr. Google’ and give more attention to what they read on the internet than what they read in my medical textbook,” Sheffield said.
Most recently, lawmakers in the Texas House adopted an amendment to the House budget bill filed by Rep. Beckley, which would require the state to compile data on vaccination rates in child-care facilities and licensed family homes.
Last week, the group Texans for Vaccine Choice held its rally at the Capitol, advocating for legislation that would expand the state’s exemption policies. Members of the group are asking the state to support bills that would put the choice in the hands of individuals and parents.