Health Department urges parents to get children vaccinated

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 20, 2018

The Mississippi Department of Health reminds all families to get their children vaccinated before the start of the coming school year.

Vaccines are essential in maintaining the public health, since they provide immunity to a number of illnesses that have become rare through the use of vaccines, said Dr. Paul Byers, a state epidemiologist with the Mississippi Department of Health.

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Byers said it is through the use of vaccines in Mississippi that cases of polio, measles, mumps and diphtheria are unheard of or rare in this state.

“In states where vaccine use has decreased, there have been outbreaks of measles,” Byers said.

He reminds parents that they should check their child’s medical record to ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccines. Contrary to recent coverage by the Item, The Mississippi Department of Health continues to offer vaccines to children from birth to 18 years of age.

Back in 2005, the state began to mandate all children who would be starting seventh grade get a booster shot called the Tdap. It is a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Byers said the state began to mandate children get the booster shot because it was noted that over time the immunity from those illnesses began to wane as children aged.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, can be deadly to children younger than 5. Measles is also deadly, Byers said.

Because of vaccinations, there has not been a case of measles in the state since 1992, he said.

To address concerns that vaccinations cause the onset of autism, Byers said that extensive research has been conducted and no link between having a child vaccinated and the development of autism has been found.

Having most children vaccinated in a community ensures there are less cases of a particular illness, and it protects the children who are unable or too young to be vaccinated, Byers said.