Should childhood immunizations be required to attend Mississippi schools? Bill to broaden exemptions debated

JACKSON, Mississippi — Mississippi has some of the worst rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the U.S., but public health officials brag that it ranks best in the nation for childhood immunization.

Physicians are lobbying against a bill that would broaden the exemptions for vaccinations required to enter school or day care. The state health officer, Dr. Mary Currier, says loosening immunization requirements could put people at risk of contracting preventable diseases such as measles.

Members of a group called Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights say that they, and not the government, should decide whether and when to immunize their children. More than a dozen parents, some carrying babies or pushing strollers, have been at the Capitol the past two weeks talking to lawmakers and handing out fliers that call the childhood vaccination program “a massive, profit-churning government program.”