EDITORIAL: Top ranking

By NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi – so often ranked last in important national measures – achieved for 2009-2010 the nation’s top ranking for the percentage of children 19-35 months of age receiving required and recommended immunizations.
The 50-state National Immunization Survey reported the signal accomplishment, announced Tuesday by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The numbers place Mississippi ahead of states usually rated higher on measures of individual health, and more importantly than the rank, the vaccines help make thousands of toddlers healthier and resistant to childhood diseases.
Mississippi had an average immunization rate of 81.1 percent for the major childhood vaccinations for children 19-35 months of age (including DTaP, Polio, MMR, and other recommended vaccinations), exceeding the national average of 71.5 percent.
The health department vaccinates against Hepatitis B; diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (Pertussis); polio; Hib (Haemophilus influenzae Type b); childhood pneumonia; measles, mumps and rubella; and chicken pox.
The state is proactive in childhood disease prevention, using a statewide Immunization Registry to help track when vaccinations are due for children, and help notify parents with reminders and recalls. Providers of immunizations record vaccines administered in the statewide Immunization Registry.
The seeds of the current success were planted by late state health officer Dr. Ed Thompson when he returned to Mississippi in 2007.
Immunization against childhood diseases is required by Mississippi law before a child can enter school, Head Start, or day care.
Immunizations are free for families qualifying for the Vaccines For Children program.
It’s important to note that vaccinations beyond childhood are also important and available.
Vaccinations targeted specifically to adolescents and teenagers include those against meningococcal disease and HPV Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease, which can be contracted by sexually active females and males.
Those entering high school and college should be protected against hepatitis and meningococcal disease. International travelers should contact their local health office about recommended immunizations.
Complete information about immunizations and other public health issues is available on the department’s website, msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite.

The department can be contacted in other ways:
– Post Office Box 1700
Jackson, MS 39215-1700
– 24-Hour Information
1-866-458-4948 (1-866-HLTHY4U)
– Central Office (601) 576-7400 (8 a.m.-5p.m.)
The department is among our state’s greatest resources.