Texas is home to some of the best universities in the world. Our scientists are second to none. Cutting-edge medical research is happening in Texas right now that is literally saving lives and changing the world for the better.
But some of our elected officials responsible for protecting the health of all Texans appear distrustful of these highly respected doctors and scientists. For those of us who work every day to protect Texans against disease and pandemics, the report recently released by chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst of the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee is disappointing.
The contents of the report were so politicized that a bipartisan group of committee members took the extraordinary step of refusing to sign it, inserting letters of objection to the inaccuracies and misinformation included in the publication. The report, which provides a roadmap for Senate policy, includes:
Some in the Legislature may prefer to play politics, but those serving on the Health and Human Services Committee of the Texas Senate should not. They have tremendous power to shape laws and set the regulatory agenda for the health of millions of Texans. It is an awesome responsibility that must be taken seriously.
This committee had a chance to use the incredible medical and academic resources to produce a thorough analysis of the lessons learned from the pandemic, and determine possible best next steps. Instead, the committee grounded its work in what could be described as misleading and scientific inaccuracies.
Numerous anti-vaccine bills have already been filed in the House and Senate as the Legislature convenes. When legislators attack vaccines, they are suggesting the Texas doctors who fought to bring our lives and economy back just aren’t smart enough. When legislators attack vaccines, they attack the Texas researchers and scientists at universities and private labs across Texas working to save lives and create jobs.
When legislators attack vaccines, they attack the thousands of first responders and volunteers who worked together in cities across Texas to get shots in arms and stop the pandemic. Texans are smart. They’ll recognize when senators stop playing politics with vaccines and start protecting the health of all Texans.
Terri Burke is the executive director of The Immunization Partnership, a statewide nonprofit that works to prevent diseases by advocating for public policy that supports immunization best practices. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.