Texans for Vaccine Choice

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Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC)
Formation2015; 4 years ago (2015)[1]
FounderJackie Schlegel[1]
TypePolitical action committee[2]
FocusAnti-vaccination
Region
Texas
Executive Director
Jackie Schlegel[1]
Websitewww.texansforvaccinechoice.com

Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC) is an anti-vaccine[3][4][5][6][7][8] Facebook group turned political action committee[9][10] in Texas which advocates for personal belief exemptions to vaccination requirements,[2][11][12] based on "a collection of fake news, half- truths, and conspiracy theories".[13] Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former medical researcher and originator of the MMR autism hoax, and infectious disease specialist Peter Hotez, both describe TFVC's lobbying as very effective, with the rate of Texas students opting out of at least one vaccine at least doubling in around five years[14][15] and over 50,000 Texas schoolchildren not being vaccinated.[16]

Background[edit]

Texans for Vaccine Choice was founded in 2015 by a group of mothers, lead by Jackie Schlegel, who opposed legislation proposed by state representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) which would have eliminated conscientious exemptions to vaccination requirements in the state of Texas.[2][17] Referring to this bill, TFVC executive director Jackie Schlegel said “This is Texas. We believe in parental rights in Texas. Like, that is just a fundamental belief that most Texans have that parents make decisions for their children, not the state.”[5][10] The bill was never voted on.[2] When he ran for re-election, Villalba faced opposition from TFVC as well as a primary challenger who ran a campaign largely based on the vaccine exemption issue.[10] Villalba won, but stated that he believed opposition from TFVC reduced his margin of victory, and said "I’m not interested in a suicide mission on this issue, I sense — and this is unfortunate — the only way a bill like this gets any traction is an even worse large-scale outbreak, between now and session. Short of that, I just don’t think there is going to be the appetite to do this bill.”[10]

Texans for Vaccine Choice also helps parents apply for vaccine exemptions for their children,[18] placing them at the epicenter of Travis County's rapidly growing anti-vaccination movement.[19] TFVC is promoted alongside Andrew Wakefield in the anti-vaccination propaganda film Vaxxed.[19][20]

Political actions[edit]

Terri Andrews of the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County, a Texas Medical Association member initiative, describes TFVC as the "main anti-vaccination group in Texas".[3] Vaccine researcher Peter Hotez notes that moderate candidates in Texas are "being cherry-picked out by candidates running on anti-vaccine platforms".[15] One example is the 2018 TX statehouse election for district 114, where TFVC endorsed Lisa Luby Ryan, unseating the incumbent Republican in the primary.[21] Ryan was beaten in the general election by Democrat John Turner.

Science communicator David Gorski has criticized TFVC for publishing blog posts misrepresenting herd immunity, and accusing them of exaggerating the risks of vaccines and downplaying the benefits. Gorski has also criticized Jackie Schlegel for describing her autistic daughter as "vaccine injured",[5] since there is compelling evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Novack, Sophie (August 8, 2017). "Fringe Factor, How 'Mad Moms in Minivans' Injected Themselves into Texas' Anti-Vaccine Debate". Texas Observer. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Kupferschmidt, Kai (December 1, 2016). "Why Texas is becoming a major antivaccine battlefield". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aal0439. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County Countering Anti-Vaxxers With Shots and Information". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "Benjamin Mazer: The dog whistle medicine of the anti-vaccine movement". March 9, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Texas: Ground zero for the politicization of school vaccine mandates". sciencebasedmedicine.org. March 5, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "How Anti-Vaxxers are Injecting Themselves into the Texas Republican Primaries". The Texas Observer. February 28, 2018.
  7. ^ "Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas". Washington Post.
  8. ^ Evans, Marissa; Tribune, The Texas (November 15, 2018). "Anti-vaccine Texas families may take their fight to day cares next". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Galili, Uri (2018). "Anti-Gal-Mediated Amplification of Viral Vaccine Efficacy". Elsevier. pp. 149–169. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-813362-0.00009-9. ISBN 9780128133620.
  10. ^ a b c d Smith, Morgan (April 2, 2016). "PAC Mobilizes to Defend Vaccine Exemptions in Texas". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Gorden, Max (March 3, 2017). "Texas Groups Fight Pro-Vaccine Legislation". Spectrum News Austin. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  12. ^ Thakar, Emily (2018). "God Bless Texas: Should Texas Eliminate the Vaccine Exemption for Reasons of Conscience?". Journal of Biosecurity, Biosafety, and Biodefense Law. 9 (1). doi:10.1515/jbbbl-2018-0008.
  13. ^ a b "Vaccines do not cause autism, says Dad who should know [Opinion] - HoustonChronicle.com". December 22, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  14. ^ "Vaccine exemptions on the rise among Texas students - HoustonChronicle.com". August 15, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Glenza, Jessica (February 26, 2018). "Disgraced anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield aims to advance his agenda in Texas election". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "US Scientists: Refusing Vaccines Puts Everyone's Health at Risk". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  17. ^ Sun, Lena H. (February 20, 2017). "Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  18. ^ "Why Texas is becoming a major antivaccine battlefield". Science | AAAS. November 30, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Hotez, Peter J. (October 25, 2016). "Texas and Its Measles Epidemics". PLoS Medicine. 13 (10): e1002153. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002153. ISSN 1549-1277. PMC 5079653. PMID 27780206.
  20. ^ Graham, Ruth (November 16, 2016). "Private School Parents Are Keeping Austin Weird—and Unsafe—by Not Vaccinating Their Kids". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  21. ^ "Democrat hopes to flip Dallas district in Texas House race against staunch GOP Trump backer". Dallas News. October 22, 2018.