By Christina van Waasbergen

Today the Farabee Senate voted to approve a bill that removes the exemption for the mandatory vaccination of school students in the case of religious or moral opposition. The Farabee House later voted against the bill. The bill mandated that students, regardless of religious objection, must provide proof of vaccination to attend Texas public schools. The bill still allowed private and charter schools to make their own decisions regarding vaccination and did not remove the exemption for students who are not able to be vaccinated due to a medical condition.

Emily Baker, a senior from Keller High School who authored the bill, believes that it would help keep students healthy.

“My bill seeks to make sure that our students are safe, that we are keeping intact herd immunity by having as many kids vaccinated as possible,” Baker said. “If there is a child that cannot have a vaccine due to medical reasons, they need to be protected, and by all of us being protected, we’re in turn protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.”

However, Griffin Smith, a junior from Dripping Springs High School who argued against the bill, believes that it violates religious liberty.

“I was against [the bill] because it destroyed people’s First Amendment rights,” Smith said. He believes that all children have a right to public education and that some students do not have the option to attend a private school or be home-schooled. “I think that education is a right.” Smith said. “Though public schools have many issues with them they are the only education we have that anyone can get. Banning people from public schools is not okay.”

Smith also thinks that vaccines are ineffective. “The real reason that we have immunities is by actually experiencing the disease.” Smith said. “Vaccines have a weak or dead strain, but that only gives you partial immunity.”