Doctor speaks out against claims that autism is linked to vaccines

 More Texas parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, but the town of Eagle Lake is bucking that trend. Part of the vaccination success can be linked to a doctor who relies on science and his own personal story.

Dr. Russell Thomas Jr. practices medicine in his hometown of Eagle Lake. When he was a boy, he never received the polio vaccine.
"Unfortunately I wasn't included in the last test group," said Thomas.
Two years later he was diagnosed with polio, a moment that he says changed his life forever. 
"It's not just an idea with me, it's not just a concept," said Thomas. "I've lived the outcome of not getting a vaccine, and it's not where I want to be."

He underwent 14 surgeries growing up, and his legs were significantly weakened. Without braces, it's tough to walk.
Dr. Thomas says all of it  could have been prevented with a vaccine.

"If I had the choice between the risks of the vaccine, even early primitive vaccines, I think I would have taken the chance," said Thomas. "I would have gotten that vaccine of my own choice."

Dr. Thomas was awarded the 2014-2015 Texas Family Physician of the Year. He is outspoken when it comes to defending vaccines and encouraging parents to immunize their children.

"My patients are able to see anytime they walk into my office what happens when you don't get a vaccine sometimes," said Thomas.

Now a Facebook video by Bexar County District Attorney Nico Lahood, coupled with the film "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe" is igniting the immunization debate across Texas again.

"We had a very different child after the round of vaccines," said Lahood. "So no one is going to tell my child was born with autism, because he was not."

Thomas says CDC studies clearly show there is no link to vaccines and autism. When families come in with concerns, he points to science and his own personal story.

"Any chance I get, I share that story," said Thomas. "When I have kids concerned about needles or getting the shots, I just tap my brace. I had 14 surgeries. I have to wear a brace. A small shot is a small price to pay to not go through that."

In Eagle Lake, the vaccine exemption rate sits at zero percent. Although the exemption rate is only .62 percent. in Harris County, this number has doubled in the last five years.
Thomas hopes that trend doesn't continue because it may make community more vulnerable to outbreaks.

"That's all we can do, just keep telling the truth, and backing it up with evidence," said Thomas. "And I hope that at the end, that those that are scared realize they're basing their fear on unfounded things.

There are 5.5 million students in schools in Texas, slightly less than 45,000 right now have opted out of vaccinations. This number has continued to rise steadily since 2003. 

Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

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