SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi has always been a leader when it comes to kids getting vaccinated. And the Mississippi Department of Health wants to keep it that way. Officials are reminding parents that state law requires that children be immunized in order to enter public or private school, Head Start, or daycare.
The back to school rush is known as the state's busiest immunization effort every year. And unfortunately there's always a lot of procrastination. Just ask Dr. Bob Travnicek, who worked at the State Department of Health in South Mississippi for more than 23 years.
"Everybody waits until the last minute and I won't say there lined up out the door, but they're very long lines," he said.
But the good news is Mississippi has one of the highest vaccine rates in the country.
"It's always either one or two because we have some of the strongest school laws that are there to protect the public and unless you immunize a high percentage of kids you're going to have a breakdown in immunity and an outbreak in disease," said Dr. Travnicek.
In fact a recent outbreak of measles in California led to legislation being passed in that state, that Dr. Travnicek said mirrors Mississippi's vaccine laws that have been in place for years.
"I think that validates the approach we've had in Mississippi forever I guess. And so I'm proud that we stayed the course and people are recognizing us for having the gold standard," he added.
As far as what your child needs before entering school for the first time in Mississippi the MMR (measles, mumps rubella), chickenpox vaccine, hepatitis B, TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and the polio vaccine.
And if your child is entering the seventh grade, a TDAP booster is now required.
"One thing that has changed is we've recognized waning immunity with some of these vaccines and now they have requirements for the seventh grade," Dr. Travnicek explained.
Dr. Travnicek said seventh grade is also a good time for parents to consider two additional vaccine options.
"When you bring your kid in for shots in the 7th grade you might want to also think about adding meningitis and HPV(human papillomavirus)," he recommended.
Vaccines are available from state health department clinics in any county, or from your pediatrician or family doctor. So make sure your child's shots are up to date before the start of school and students entering school for the first time also need a certified copy of their birth certificate.