August is National Immunization Awareness Month!

August is National Immunization Awareness Month! NIAM is an annual observance that highlights the importance of the role of vaccines in protecting public health. 

Mississippi is one of few states that requires all children entering school (from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade) to have the DTaP, Hepatitis B, Polio, MMR, and Chickenpox vaccines. Because of this requirement, more than 99% of school-age children in the state have received a full dose of the MMR vaccine, and more than 99% of Mississippi kindergartners have been immunized with the DTaP and chickenpox vaccines. 

Why does this matter? These vaccines target viruses, such as measles, which are highly contagious and commonly fatal- especially for children. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, “Measles is a serious disease in children, and the risk of complications is highest in children younger than 5 years old. Adults can easily be infected with measles as well, and both adults and children can spread the disease to others before they are aware of any symptoms. About 1 in 4 measles cases require hospitalization, and one or two of every 1,000 measles cases results in death.” 

Thanks to immunization requirements in our state, Mississippi has remained measles-free due to one of the highest immunization rates in the country. No cases of measles have been reported in Mississippi since 1992. Mississippi’s childhood immunizations have a strong safety record, with far fewer side effects than the diseases they prevent. There is no evidence for lasting adverse effects from immunizations, and typical reactions are mild, such as temporary discomfort or low fever. 

Dr. Mary Currier of UMMC notes, “By having almost all children who are starting school immunized, those youngsters who are high risk (those with illnesses making them more likely to have severe disease and less likely to respond to the vaccine) are protected by the wall of vaccinated children around them.  It is a good example of being a great neighbor and friend, vaccinating and protecting your children, and protecting other kids simultaneously. Additionally, when kids are sick less often, parents miss work less often, adding to family welfare and stability.”  

As Dr. Currier mentioned, public health matters go beyond just one family unit. When children are sick, it creates a domino effect on their families and the community at large. By keeping our children safe and healthy, we allow communities to continue to grow and thrive, both physically and economically. By acknowledging the benefits of vaccinations and staying up-to-date on your immunizations, you can play a simple part in creating healthy communities for our children- and when our children thrive, Mississippi thrives!

To learn more about MS vaccination requirements and data, visit,0,71.html