Mississippi ranked top in country for vaccines

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi is leading the nation in protecting children against childhood diseases.
In 2009-2010, Mississippi had 80 percent of its 19- to 35-month-old children vaccinated against childhood diseases – the highest rate in the country, according to the National Immunization Survey. The national average for that group was 71.1 percent.
Mississippi, which ranked 18th in 2008-2009 survey, received the award for the most improved.
“Getting our kids immunized is one of the most important things we can do for our kids,” said Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. “We’re really pleased.”
There’s robust public-private partnerships in getting vaccines to children around Mississippi, Currier said. The state health department gives about 40 percent of the immunizations in the state; the majority are given in pediatric and family medicine clinics. But the state health department provides materials and support for those efforts.
An online immunization registry maintained by the state health department has been very helpful for physicians, said Tupelo pediatrician Dr. Ed Ivancic.
“It’s all in one place,” Ivancic said, making it easy for family physicians and pediatricians to quickly determine what vaccines a child needs.
It’s vitally important to get kids all the scheduled immunizations by age 2. The vaccine protects the child who receives it, Currier said. When enough people receive the vaccine, even those who haven’t received the vaccine – like babies too young to receive it – are protected.
“It’s really important to get out the message that vaccines are safe, effective and really necessary,” Currier said.
Mississippi already has seen benefits from the higher vaccination rates. Other states have seen outbreaks of measles and whooping cough. The cases of measles in Mississippi all originated outside the state, and the one serious whooping cough outbreak in 2007 didn’t spread.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.