Mississippi has highest vaccination rate

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2015

PREVENTATIVE: Dr. J. Abraham Rodriguez holds two-month baby Weston as nurse Lorie Kilpatrick administers a shot.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

PREVENTATIVE: Dr. J. Abraham Rodriguez holds two-month-old Weston as nurse Lorie Kilpatrick administers a shot.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Last month, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced that the state has the highest rate of vaccination coverage for kindergarten students nationwide.
This rate is in accordance with a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a health department release states.
According to the release, there were 45,719 kindergarten students enrolled in public and private classrooms in the state during the 2013-2014 school year. Of that number, 99.7 percent had vaccination coverage.
The vaccinations protect children from measles, mumps and rubella; diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTap) and vancella. The state requires five different vaccinations prior to first grade, the release states.
Dr. J. Abraham Rodriguez is a pediatrician at Highland Pediatrics and said that vaccinations are one of the safest things parents can do for their children.
“Generations before suffered from chicken pox, shingles, meningitis, measles and pneumonia,” Rodriguez said. “Now, there are preventative measures in place to inhibit the spread of infectious diseases.”
There is even a vaccine for cervical cancer, Rodriguez said, and one common cause of that cancer is HPV. Boys and girls are vaccinated at 11-years-old, he said.
In an average year, Rodriguez performs more than 1,000 vaccinations.
“It’s an extremely good idea and they are safe,” Rodriguez said. “This is the age of the Internet and parents are reading a large amount of misinformation.”
Rodriguez said that two of the most common side effects of vaccinations can be pain at the injection site and a mild fever.
“Vaccinations have changed the world,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t see nearly as many sick patients as we did 20 years ago.”
Rodriguez suggests parents who are reluctant to vaccinate their children share their concerns with their child’s physician.
“Get the right facts and learn what the true side effects are,” Rodriguez said.
MSDH State Health officer Dr. Mary Currier said in a release that she is proud of the state’s vaccination rate.
“Vaccines not only protect the children who are vaccinated, but also protect those around them, who may be too young to be fully immunized or those with weakened immune systems,” Dr. Currier said in the release. “Mississippi children continue to die unnecessarily from vaccine-preventable diseases. Two children died from whooping cough in 2008 and 2012, which is preventable through vaccination.”
According to the release, immunizations are estimated to prevent more than 300 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths for children born in the United States between 1994 and 2013.

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