MS Ranks #1 in Number of Children Vaccinated

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Mississippi is near the bottom on a lot of lists, but we’re number one in the number of vaccinated children, but at least one group is lobbying to leave the choice to vaccinate or not up to the parents.

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection which causes a high fever, rash, and in some cases death. Since 1968, it has been controlled worldwide by a vaccine, but in 1998, a study was released that linked the vaccine with autism, worrying parents across the nation. Margo Swetman, an author, says, "I had a lot of questions and I almost didn’t get my second child vaccinated, even though I had the measles 15 years earlier, but doing further research into it, I found out that all that is false."

Unlike many states, Mississippi doesn’t allow religious or philosophical exemptions to the vaccine regulation, but there is a statewide movement to leave that choice up to the parents. Many medical professionals disagree. Dr. Randy Roth, Chief Medical Officer for Singing River Health System, says, "It works. It’s very low risk, it’s a very preventable disease, and we could extinguish the disease if we had 100% vaccinations. I think our no opt out policy is the way to go."

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Swetman contracted measles as an adult and her unique experience has her agreeing with doctors around the country. Swetman also says, "It’s a miserable disease. Children shouldn’t be exposed to it. They shouldn’t have to catch it because their parents, for whatever reason, are deciding they don’t need to be vaccinated."

When it comes to measles, there’s only one thing everyone agrees on, that nobody wants it, but the debate still rages on about the best way to prevent the disease. Dr. Roth says, "In a state like California, where they have that opt out policy, it’s 92% vaccinated. That’s where the cases broke out. Mississippi is number one in something for a change, which is vaccination rate, and we’ve had no cases in the state." Those are numbers many Mississippians can’t argue with.

Swetman closes, "Right now, Mississippi is doing the right thing. There’s a lot things I could criticize Mississippi for, but that is the right thing to do."