Immunizations required for school entry in Mississippi


The Mississippi State Department of Health Requires five vaccines for entry to public schools: DTap, Polio, Hepatits B, MMR, and Varicella.

These are serious diseases caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds.

  • Diptheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
  • Tetanus (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in up to 2 out of 10 cases.
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough) causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, o breathe. These spells can last for weeks. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death. Listen to how Whooping Cough sounds in an infant.

Learn more about DTap

Polio is a disease caused by a virus. It is spread mainly by person to-person contact. It can also be spread by consuming food or drinks that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person Most people infected with polio have no symptoms, and many recover without complications. But sometimes people who get polio develop paralysis (cannot move their arms or legs). Polio can result in permanent disability. Polio can also cause death, usually by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing.

Polio used to be very common in the United States. It paralyzed and killed thousands of people every year before polio vaccine was introduced in 1955. There is no cure for polio infection, but it can be prevented by vaccination. Polio has been eliminated from the United States. But it still occurs in other parts of the world. It would only take one person infected with polio coming from another country to bring the disease back here if we were not protected by vaccination. If the effort to eliminate the disease from the world is successful, some day we won’t need polio vaccine. Until then, we need to keep getting our children vaccinated.

More information about the Polio vaccine

Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.

Learn more about the Hepatitis B vaccine

Measles, mumps, and rubella are serious diseases. Before vaccines they were very common, especially among children. Learn more about the MMR vaccine here.

    • Measles virus causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation, and fever. It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death.

Mumps virus causes fever, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and swollen glands. It can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and rarely sterility.

Rubella (German Measles) virus causes rash, arthritis (mostly in women), and mild fever. If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born with serious birth defects. These diseases spread from person to person through the air. You can easily catch them by being around someone who is already infected.

VaricellaVaricella (chickenpox) is a highly contagious disease that is very uncomfortable and sometimes serious. The chickenpox vaccine is the best protection against chickenpox. The vaccine is made from weakened varicella virus that produces an immune response in your body that protects you against chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine was licensed for use in the United States in 1995. Since then, the vaccine has become widely used. Thanks to the chickenpox vaccine, the number of people who get chickenpox each year as well as hospitalizations and deaths from chickenpox have gone down dramatically in the United States.

Learn more about the Varicella vaccine here.

The risks of not immunizing your child

Vaccines were developed to protect people from dangerous and often fatal diseases. Vaccines are safe and effective, and vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat.

  • Pertussis or “whooping cough” is an extremely dangerous disease for infants. It is not easily treated and can result in permanent brain damage or death. Since the 1980s, the number of cases of pertussis has increased, especially among babies younger than 6 months and teenagers. In 2010, several states reported an increase in cases and outbreaks of pertussis, including a state-wide epidemic in California. Many infants died from whooping cough during this epidemic.
  • Measles is dangerous and very contagious. It is still common in many countries and is easily brought into the United States by returning vacationers and foreign visitors. The number of reported measles cases began to decline rapidly during the 1990s. Recently, vaccine hesitancy among parents in the United States and abroad has led to a growing number of children and teens who are under-vaccinated and thus, unprotected from measles. Unfortunately, measles cases are on the rise across this country and worldwide.

Without immunizations your child can infect others.

  • Children who are not immunized can readily transmit vaccine-preventable diseases throughout the community.
  • Unvaccinated children can pass diseases on to babies who are too young to be fully immunized.
  • Unvaccinated children pose a threat to children and adults who can’t be immunized for medical reasons. This includes people with leukemia and other cancers, immune system problems, and people receiving treatment or medications that suppress their immune system.
  • Unvaccinated children can infect the small percentage of children who do not mount an immune response to vaccination.

Without immunizations your child may have to be excluded from school or child care.

During disease outbreaks, unimmunized children may be excluded from school or child care until the outbreak is over. This is for their own protection and the protection of others. It can cause hardship for the child and parent. In Mississippi, any child without the five immunizations listed above may not enroll in public school, period.