Health Department Promoting Awareness

The Mississippi Department of Health has kicked off a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of immunizations. A number of public service announcements are being broadcast in conjunction with it.

Regional health officer, Dr. Rebecca "Tree" James, says a growing number of people are not allowing their children to be immunized because of concerns that the shots are linked to autism.

James said new research that has been gathered from countries where vaccinations are not required proves this is not true.

"And in all of those places, autism has increases in spite of whether or not they were vaccinated," Dr. James said. "So, apparently, there's something else going on there."

As for critics who say that vaccinations are no longer needed, James said that's not accurate. .

"A lot of those diseases we don't see anymore because immunizations have made them so rare," she said.

Within a year's time, a baby can get up to a dozen immunizations shot. With research showing that the human body can adequately handle even more than this if needed, Dr. James says enduring a little prick now can pay off later.

"The danger in waiting, first of all, is for your own child who may be exposed to one of those diseases and becomes very ill from being exposed to one of those diseases and dies from it," said James, "and then other children that they're around who are maybe too young to get the vaccines. And that's where we see some of the deaths from whooping cough."

Finally, for residents who feel that it is better to build up immunity from actually getting the virus than from getting vaccinated, she has this word of warning.

"The disease is not preferable to something that helps your body to recognize that virus or bacteria and builds antibodies naturally against it, as opposed to being exposed to the full blown, all the bacteria load and then having to try to beat that as well as having to build the antibodies," James said.

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