By Reeve Hamilton
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, with a vote of 6-2, that vaccine manufacturers are protected from lawsuits by parents who believe that vaccines harmed their children. One thing this assuredly means for Texas: The anti-immunization community will be out in force this session working against vaccine mandates — including a soon-to-be-filed bill expanding meningococcal vaccine requirements for college students.
Earlier this month, 20-year-old Nicolis Williams, an economics major at Texas A&M University, died after falling ill with bacterial meningitis. In Texas, students who live in college dormitories are required to be vaccinated against meningitis. Williams lived off campus — and he wasn’t vaccinated. Since his death, Williams’ parents have been pushing lawmakers to close that gap by requiring all college students be vaccinated, and lawmakers are lining up to do it.
State Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, in whose district the Williams family lives, says he is drafting such a bill. Other lawmakers have already filed similar legislation. State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, and Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, submitted theirs on Monday. In the upper chamber, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, says she plans to file legislation because, she says, “We feel that the law today is a little too limited.”