Whether Mississippi parents are getting their children ready for school or to start daycare, ensuring kids are immunized has to be at the top of the list.
Mississippi schools open in just a few weeks. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says children starting school for the first time must be immunized against five diseases.
"The D-TaP, which is the Diphtheria, Tetanus and Petussis vaccinations. Polio, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, which is known as the MMR vaccination and Varicella which is Chicken Pox," said Byers.
Byers stresses all students must be up to date on their shots. He says parents should check with their doctor or the local county health department to find out what immunizations their child needs. Those attending daycare centers are no exception.
One-hundred and four children from eight weeks to age five attend Galloway Children's Center in Jackson. Executive Director Sharon Patterson says all of them must be immunized according to state health department requirements. Patterson contracted Polio as a baby and recalls wearing leg braces as a child. She says immunizations have proven effective in combating childhood diseases.
"Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, all those diseases, children used to get those in childhood and when they were sick they lost weight, they were unhealthy, it set them back in school," said Patterson.
Patterson says Mississippi excels at ensuring children are immunized. Dr. Paul Byers says exemptions are allowed for medical reasons when requested by a doctor.