Mississippi has highest vaccination rates in the country

Mississippi has highest vaccination rates in the country

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - According to the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) , Mississippi has the highest obesity rates, but also has the highest vaccination rates in the country.

Dr. Benjamin Burkett at Merit Health Primary Care in Petal said this is due to Mississippi's strict mandatory vaccination laws.

"Well quite a while ago the officials at the state health department and other officials that make the schedules for vaccinations figured out that vaccinations were very important for children  in helping to prevent disease," Burkett said.

According to the CDC, 99.7 percent of the state's kindergarteners were fully vaccinated in 2014. This is compared to the 8 percent of kindergarteners in California.

"In the state of Mississippi, to be able to enter into a daycare or school anything where you might have interaction with other children, you are required to have a number of certain shots available," Burkett said.

Vaccinations in the state of Mississippi have changed over the years. Most recently, seventh graders have been mandated to have a tetanus booster going into the seventh grade.

Though some may disagree with vaccinating children, Dr. Burkett believes the regulations should stay in place.

"Even thirty years ago there were a number of hospitals and even deaths associated with illnesses that we now have vaccines for," Burkett said. "I think that is the most important reason to help protect your child and others from diseases that are quite preventable."

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health. Mississippi has not had a reported case of measles since 1992.