JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi has the highest rate of vaccination coverage for kindergarten students nationwide, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 45,719 kindergarten students enrolled in public and private kindergarten classrooms throughout the state during the 2013–2014 school year had 99.7 percent vaccination coverage, greater than the national median of 93.3–95 percent for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine; the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTap); and the varicella vaccine.
Mississippi requires five different vaccines to be administered prior to entering first grade.
“We continue to be very proud of our vaccination rates,” said MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. “Mississippi’s strong school entry immunization law is protecting Mississippi residents from outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases that other states have experienced.”
The MSDH grants all requests for medical exemptions submitted by a licensed Mississippi pediatrician, family physician or internist. Mississippi is one of 31 states that do not allow philosophical exemptions for children attending school or daycare. The Mississippi Supreme Court deemed religious exemptions unconstitutional in 1979.
“Vaccines not only protect the children who are vaccinated, but also protect those around them who may be too young to be fully immunized or those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Currier. “Mississippi children continue to die unnecessarily from vaccine-preventable diseases. Two children died from whooping cough in 2008 and 2012, which is preventable through vaccination.”
In fact, for U.S. children born between 1994 and 2013, immunizations are estimated to prevent more than 300 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths.
For more information on the importance of childhood vaccinations, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/immunizations or call us toll-free at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948).
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)