GLEN ROSE – The number of Glen Rose ISD students who are being vaccinated against preventable diseases is falling, a local North Texas epidemiologist reported this week.

In a medical column written for the Glen Rose Reporter, Taylor Sexton explores how GRISD falls below the state average for vaccinated students– a number that has been steadily declining.

“Glen Rose ISD goes beyond that of many Texas schools to protect the health and safety of its students in many ways including providing a full-time nurse at each campus and offering vaccinations though the Texas Department of State Health Services,” Sexton wrote. “Yet the number of parents exempting their child from vaccinations continues to grow.

Citing DSHS stats for the 2015-2016 school year, Sexton noted that 1.9% of GRISD students claimed a non-medical exemption – an increase of 1.62% of students who were not vaccinated the previous year.

“In fact, the number of parents exempting their child from the vaccinations that protect all students has increased steadily over the past 5 years,” Sexton wrote.

“Often the parents who choose not to vaccinate justify this decision by stating, 'If your child is vaccinated, then why does it matter if mine is not?’ This is explained by a simple public health principle called herd immunity. If a large majority of the herd is vaccinated, it protects the others, especially those who cannot receive vaccinations for medical reasons and those who have weakened immune systems.”

Glen Rose Independent School District Superintendent G. Wayne Rotan said he and his staff have done everything they could to get students immunized. But it should be noted that Texas law does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations for medical reasons, religious reasons, or reasons of conscience, he said.

“But when you’re talking about a 1.3 percentage becoming a 1.6, that’s’ only three to four kids – not a huge number when you're talking about 1,750 students,” the superintendent said. “Again, we do everything allowed by law but that law does allow parents to decline.”