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Health dept. offering free immunizations this week

Only two days remain for citizens to take advantage of freechildhood immunizations being offered at the Lincoln County HealthDepartment this week for children aged infant to 18.

The $10 vaccination fees that apply year-round are being waivedthis week as part of National Infant Immunization Week. NIIW occursannually and is meant to stress the importance of protectingchildren from vaccine-preventable diseases.

“This is something that we’re doing basically in celebration ofthis week,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier. “You canalways get those vaccinations at the health department for the $10administration fee, but this week we’re waiving that fee.”

Currier said health departments across the state are providingimmunizations for a host of diseases, such as chicken pox, measles,mumps and tetanus. Immunizations are also being provided for humanpapillomavirus (HPV) for pre-adolescent girls and haemophilusinfluenzae Type B meningitis, which was once the leading cause ofacquired mental retardation in the country, Currier said.

“Vaccines for children are very important,” Currier said. “It’sone of the best things you can do for your child to preventdisease.”

Currier pointed out that the immunizations offered this week area good way for school children to meet state vaccinationrequirements.

“In Mississippi, the law requires particular vaccines for schoolentry,” she said. “Having kids required to be vaccinated prior toschool entry protects those in school who cannot be vaccinatedbecause of medical problems. It makes it basically so diseases havea harder time getting to them because the people surrounding themare protected.”

Despite the reluctance of some parents to have their childrenvaccinated, Currier stressed that childhood immunizations arerequired by law and only certain criteria allow children to avoidthem.

“The law says the only way to be exempt from vaccines is to havea medical exemption – some medical condition that makes itdangerous for a child to receive vaccines,” Currier said.

Friday will be the last day that children can be vaccinated freeof charge.

Vaccinations are being carried out during normal healthdepartment operating hours. For more information, interested peoplemay visit www.healthyms.com to view the Mississippi Department ofHealth Web site.

The free immunizations are being funded by several grants andstate funding sources, including the federal program Vaccines forChildren.