Legislative bill could impact Mississippi's vaccination rate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Legislative bill could impact Mississippi's vaccination rate

In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, at his practice in Northridge, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, at his practice in Northridge, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

The Mississippi Health Department could lose its role in deciding whether a child can skip a mandatory vaccination. House Bill 130 passed the House Education Committee last week, and is scheduled to move on to the full House for more debate.

The bill says a physician would not have to seek Health Department approval to grant a vaccine exemption for medical reasons. Some local health experts fear a lack of the health department's involvement could open the door for increased problems in Mississippi.

Right now, Mississippi has one of the highest vaccine rates in the country.

"We are at 99 percent... number one." But former state health department official Dr. Bob Travnicek, worries that might change if this new bill passes in the state legislature.

"The House bill would exempt the health officer from having any control," Travnicek said.

And the bill comes at a time when federal health officials are on Capitol Hill in Washington, discussing the reemergence of diseases that are largely preventable by vaccine. A measles outbreak has sickened people in 18 states. Travnicek calls it a highly contagious and very serious disease.

"All kinds of complications. It can cause deafness, cerebral damage, and then, of course, death, because there's no treatment."

He said the measles outbreak should be a wake up call. He believes that easing restrictions in Mississippi would be a huge mistake.

"I would be worried about this bill because it's an attack on public health interventions that we have, and an attack on our ability to protect the public."

What can parents do to help protect their children?

"Get them immunized. Make sure they're up to date," Travnicek said.

And while the bill is still alive, one lawmaker told WLOX News, that it's unlikely the bill will make it to the full house for a vote.

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