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Dr. Ernest Buck On Why The Next Measles Outbreak Could Be In North Texas

Leanne Winkler

A letter from the Texas Medical Association came across the desks of KERA this week with a pretty startling headline: “The Next Disneyland Could Be Plano.” It’s a reference to the measles outbreak that’s spread to 18 states and the nation’s capital.

Dr. Ernest Buck wrote that letter. He’s a pediatrician who’s chair of the TMA’s council on health promotion. And for this week’s Friday Conversation, he joined KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter from his hometown of Corpus Christi.

Interview Highlights: Dr. Ernest Buck:

…on the article’s headline:  “You know, if you can have an epidemic start in Disneyland, you can probably have one start at Six Flags or Texas Stadium.”

…on why there is a concentration of vaccine exemptions in North Texas: “I’m not sure, honestly. We do see more conscientious exemption in more affluent areas, in folks that listen frequently to media reports and develop unnecessary anxieties about the vaccines and rather than researching it deeply or consulting with their physicians, they just get scared and opt out.”

…on whether vaccine exemption expansion poses long-term danger: “Absolutely. It just allows all of us to be exposed and particularly those with any immunodeficiency. Folks that have cancer under treatment, folks that are on steroids for a rheumatic disease, folks that have HIV. They can’t be fully immunized or have lost some of their immunities. And just being exposed to having two or three percent of folks around them not be fully immunized means that they can get exposed and have life-threatening illnesses.”

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.