Importance of back to school immunizations

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Health is critical for children and as they go back to school. Diseases could spread if they are not properly immunized. The Mississippi State Department of Health wants to remind parents that getting their children immunized against childhood diseases is required under state law when entering schools or daycares, according to a release from MSDH.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said vaccinations not only protect the parent’s children, but all other children in the school from potentially lethal diseases.

“Many of these infections can be life-threatening for young children. For adolescents, there are also recommended vaccines to prevent against human papillomavirus and the deadly meningococcal diseases that can cause meningitis,” said Dr. Alicia Stevens of The Poplarville Clinic.

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Summer might seem far away, but it is never too early to be educated on the significance of vaccinations.

“Because the health of all our patients is important to us, we encourage parents to have their children and adolescents vaccinated, especially if they’re attending public or private school,” said Stevens.

According to the release, children in Mississippi who are entering school for the first time are required to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, mumps and rubella, measles and chickenpox. Also, children entering the seventh grade are required to receive the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccinations.

Vaccines are, in most cases, effective but could occasionally cause mild reactions, such as fever or soreness at the injection site, according to the MSDH website.

Children 18 or younger who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive vaccinations for $10 each at their local Health Department, according to the release. Eligible children for the VFC program, according to MSDH, include those who receive Medicaid, Native Americans or Alaskan Native, and children who have health insurance that does not cover vaccination.

“Here at The Poplarville Clinic, we offer all recommended vaccinations. We advise every parent to contact their primary care provider or pediatrician about getting their child vaccinated before starting back to school. This helps to ensure a healthy household and a healthy community,” said Stevens.

For more information about the vaccines and immunization requirements, visit or check with a local physician.