Mississippi among top states for immunizations

Published 7:36 pm Friday, August 5, 2016

Mississippi is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to student immunization requirements.

“We do very well with keeping children well,” said Cyndee Nash, nursing coordinator for the Vicksburg Warren School District.

Students entering a Mississippi school for the first time, no matter what grade, are required to have had immunizations for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP) totaling five doses; Polio (IPV) totaling four doses; Hepatitis B totaling three doses; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) totaling 2 doses; and Chickenpox (Varicella) totaling 2 doses or having already had the disease.

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She said most of these immunizations are administered in intervals before the child is school age.

“In Mississippi, there are hardly any exemptions. The only exemption is a medical exemption, and I think it’s a little bit hard to come by. There are no religious or any other kinds of exemptions,” Nash said.

The only grade where students need a specific immunization is before seventh grade when all students have to get a booster shot for their previous DTaP immunization if the vaccination was administered before the child was 7 years old.

“That started probably about seven or eight years ago,” she said, adding it was because of an outbreak of pertussis.

Nash said sometimes students are given a probation period to prove they have received the required immunizations, but once that time expires the student would have to leave the school until they show their compliance form 121 or proof that they are in the process of receiving the immunizations.

These forms are turned in to the school at the time of registration.

The compliance form has to be signed by the health care provider that administered the immunization. Children can receive the shots from the child’s regular physician, the health department, a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant.

Having these immunizations is important for children in school, Nash said, because it keeps the child protected from diseases, some of which are deadly or could lead to paralysis, and because without protection it is easier to infect other children. “I think it’s very important because a lot of these diseases are horrendous,” she said. “Plus they could pass it on to other kids.”