Back to School Immunizations

As the start of school nears, there's some important information about immunizations and children in Mississippi. All students entering public or private school for the first time in Mississippi must get required immunizations.

As part of a requirement which started last year, all incoming 7th graders must get a Tdap vaccination. It provides protection against pertussis, which is often referred to as the highly contagious disease, whooping cough.

"The pertussis vaccine, because of changes that were made years ago so that kids wouldn't have or people wouldn't have side affects as much, it seems to wear off faster than the one back in the 80's," says local Health Officer, Dr. Rebecca James with the Mississippi State Department of Health. "So, they probably will recommend boosters on that every 5 to 10 years, just like we do the tetanus."

Dr. James says the required vaccinations not only help the recipients, but also others who are around them.

"Because they're around other children who are being exposed. For instance, if there's a child in the room that has leukemia, that's on chemotherapy or one that has severe rheumatoid arthritis that's on steroids, if they got chicken pox, or any of these things, it could kill them.'"

As for the Tdap vaccination, last year Mississippi joined 41 other states that require it for students entering the 7th grade.

The cost for the T-dap vaccination for 7th graders is $10 per child. You can get it at the health department in your county.

For more information on required immunizations in Mississippi log onto or call the Mississippi State Department of Health at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948).