An Austin-based anti-vaccine group is bringing their cause to Houston in an effort to oust a state representative who they say is standing in the way of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
According to its website, Texans for Vaccine Choice is fighting against the re-election of state Rep. Sarah Davis, a Republican who currently represents West University Place.
In addition to donating thousands of dollars, the group rallied volunteers to knock on doors and run phone-banks to get their message to voters.
Davis appears unshaken by their efforts, voicing faith in her voters.
“I think they have picked the wrong district to wage a war on vaccines in,” Davis said in response to the group’s campaigning, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Davis reportedly considers herself to be a proponent of vaccines:
In May 2017, Davis argued in favor of allowing doctors to administer vaccines to foster children if they deem it medically necessary.
Davis and fellow supporters of the measure lost, as a vote of 74-58 approved an “anti-vaccine” amendment to a bill intended to improve services for foster children.
In addition to the debate, Davis proposed four other measures in support of vaccines, which included requirements for parents to review educational materials before refusing a vaccine, the option for minors to elect to be vaccinated, increased reporting on HPV vaccination rates and eliminating the vaccine exemption allowing people to refuse a vaccine if it’s a matter “of conscience, including a religious belief.”
Evan Smith asks Rep. Sarah Davis: "Why are you a Republican?"
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) February 15, 2018
In addition to the Houston race, Texans for Vaccine Choice is working to influence at least three other Republican primaries in Dallas, as the organization w0rks to spread its message across the state.
Since Texas added the option for parents to object to vaccines because of their conscience in 2003, the number of parents using the exemption reportedly increased to 52,756 in the 2016-2017 school year.
In total, 20 to 40 percent of some Texas schools’ students are un-vaccinated.
This is leaving doctors questioning whether or not recent measles and flu outbreaks could be connected to the lower vaccine rates.
Given her medically-related claims, Davis may enjoy some backup with her voters:
West University Place is reportedly home to the highest population of medical professionals in the state of Texas, with 11,873 working and retired medical professionals living in the area.
NEW: Texas Gov. @GregAbbott_TX is building on a six-figure push to unseat state Rep. Sarah Davis. The latest is a TV ad that calls Rep. Davis “not just a liberal — a liberal you can’t trust." https://t.co/UFbQhjq2BM pic.twitter.com/wtNvQHMlGG
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) February 7, 2018
In addition to the medical concerns, Davis is said to be facing opposition from Governor Greg Abbott, who hopes to unseat her in favor of Susanna Dokupil – a former Abbott staffer and current supporter.