Rick Perry Lies About Texas Vaccination Rates

Rick Perry Lies About Texas Vaccination Rates February 11, 2015

Rick Perry, who as Texas governor signed a bill into law allowing more exemptions from “mandatory” vaccination rates, flat out lied last week when he claimed that he had boosted the vaccination rate as governor by nearly 50%. Turns out that’s completely false and the rate actually declined.

“Our vaccination rate in Texas [in 2000] was 65 percent. When I left two weeks ago, it was 95 percent.”

– Former Texas governor Rick Perry (R), in an interview with The Washington Post and the Texas Tribune, Feb. 5, 2015…

A quick search on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which lists annual vaccination rates for every state, found little basis for Perry’s assertion. So we asked Perry spokesman Travis Considine for the evidence.

He quickly provided two documents. One was a 2008 news release from the Texas Health Department, stating the immunization rate for children under age 3 was 65 percent in 2002 and had climbed to 77.3 percent in 2007. The other was 2014 CDC news release showing the vaccination rate for kindergartners in Texas was over 97 percent.

In other words, he was selling apples and oranges. There’s a huge difference between counting the rate for those under 36 months and counting the rate for children going into kindergarten. This was quickly discovered by digging into the CDC document and finding the data for Texas children between the ages of 19 and 35 months.

“You are absolutely right about that,” said Anna C. Dragsbaek, president of The Immunization Partnership, a Texas-based nonprofit that aims to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases. “Kindergarten immunization rates are not what the CDC or what public health experts look at. It’s the younger kids who really need the shots.”

So, for ages 19 to 35 months, the comparison of the vaccination rate in Texas for the recommended schedule in each year is:

2000: 63.5 percent

2013: 72.5 percent.

Even if you just compared the same “4:3:1:3:3” series in each year, the Texas vaccination rate would just be 76.4 percent in 2013. In other words, no matter how you slice it, the rate has actually declined since 2007.

So it went up the first few years of his time in office, then went back down. And it’s still well below the national rate, which is around 90%. Not something Perry ought to be bragging about.

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