JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Between the backpacks and pencils, parents are busy getting their students ready to go back to school, but the State Department of Health wants to add one more thing to the supply list: immunization shots.
Mississippi requires students entering school to get a series of immunizations, then in the 7th grade, a booster shot.
“Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis or the “Tdap” vaccination, measles mumps and rubella or the MMR, polio, Hepatitis B, chickenpox or varicella, those are all required for school entry.”
Deputy State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said students must be protected.
“By getting your child immunized, not only are you protecting your child against those childhood illnesses but you’re also protecting those children who cannot get vaccinated,” he said.
Within the past two years, there’s been a spike in measles cases across the country, particularly in California.
“Like California, where they’ve had very large measles outbreaks, they’ve actually changed their laws to make it where more folks are getting immunized,” he said.
The only way children can be exempt from vaccinations are for a medical reason. A physician must submit the reasoning to the Department of Health so they can approve it.
“We do not have religious or personal belief exemptions,” he said.
Mississippi is one of the leading states in vaccination rates in the nation.
“You notice that we haven’t been seeing those measles cases in Mississippi because our vaccination rates are very high for our school-aged kids,”
In the 7th grade, students are required to get the Tdap booster. Other vaccines are recommended, but not required, such as the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccinations.
“That’s very important in preventing cervical cancer.”
The flu vaccine is recommended as soon as it is available.