This week, KRBC is airing a Back-to-School series. Monday’s segment focuses on vaccinations. It is a topic parents, teachers and staff are split on: Should you get your child vaccinated or not?

Texas ranks among the lowest in vaccination rates. It is also one of 18 states that allows vaccine exemptions, whether it be for religious or philosophical reasons, but one Abilene mother said the benefits outweigh the risks.

“They’re our kids’ first defense. A lot of babies, especially for our babies, they’re born without an immune system and if we don’t give them those vaccines, there are deathly illnesses that they can get,” mother Micah Myrick said.

She explained that the best way to protect her kids is by arming them with vaccines.

“Even the optional ones, like the HPV, I’ve done for my son,” she said.

However, she is more concerned about the kids who have not been vaccinated.

“You hope that the kids they go to school with are what they call, ‘herd immunized’, where everyone is immunized around them because there are some kids who can’t get vaccinated for allergic reactions for physical ailments, that they have or other things,” Myrick said.

The mother of two utilizes any type of preventative measures because she said the benefits outweigh the risks.

“There’s times that I’ve taken them in, that they haven’t been that sick and then the next day, it gets worse. I took her in [my daughter] a while back for her sore throat. She was fine. The next day, completely different. You know, bad ear, bad everything so, it all can change in 24 hours,” Myrick said.

Jackson Elementary’s, in AISD, registered nurse, Debra McCracken advises parents to plan ahead, if they do want your child to be exempt.

“They have to get a waiver through the state in Austin. They usually take about 30 days, so it’s not something that you want to get to the first of school and go, ‘Oh, I want an exemption’, because we can’t do it that fast,” Debra McCracken, RN said.

 Exemptions are to be renewed every two years but parents should proceed with caution.

“A few years ago, we had a measles outbreak and it affected all across the nation, but it did affect Texas and it did affect Abilene, so the kids that had not had the measles/mumps/rubella, they were in danger,”

If you are new to Texas, be wary that every state has its own requirements.

“Texas immunization laws are different from other states, so just because your kids started in Washington and had shots, doesn’t mean that they’re shots are all the same that we need here. It has to be compliant with what Texas law is,” McCracken, RN said.

Other mothers we reached out to explained they do not get their children vaccinated because their children and had an adverse reaction to a shot..and almost died at 6-months old.

Digging deeper into why some choose to opt out of vaccinations, some religions vaccinations are frowned upon.

There is also growing distrust among the public, the skepticism about vaccines tends to go hand-in-hand with the rise in autism.Many people claim there is a correlation between autism and vaccines.

“We’ve learned so much now about what autism really is and how it begins prenatally, well before kids are ever vaccinated,” Doctor Peter Hotez from Baylor College of Medicine said.