Local health leaders say vaccine education is important

Chloe Parrish
Oxford Stories

Madison Stewart
Oxford Stories

Oxford resident Rebecca Barnes, a mother of two young children, recently vaccinated her 11-month old son.

“The choice to vaccinate was an easy decision,” she said. “My daughter is almost 8, and she is vaccinated. When my son was born, it was no question I would vaccinate him as well. My babysitter kept two children who were unvaccinated, and that concerned me greatly. I think vaccines are beneficial.”

As a teacher’s aide at the North Mississippi Regional Center, Barnes realizes many have not been properly educated on the benefits on vaccines.

“I work at North Mississippi Regional Center, and many parents believe shots caused their child to have intellectual disabilities,” she said. “However, I don’t think that is the case.”

The idea of vaccines became controversial in recent years with some who believe they are related to autism. According to the Autism Speaks website, an advocacy and support organization for people with autism and their families, some children’s autism diagnosis has corresponded with the timing of their child’s vaccinations.

“At the same time, scientists have conducted extensive research over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism,” the website reads. “The results of this research is clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.”

The website offers a comprehensive list of research on this topic from The American Academy of Pediatrics that you can view here.

Vaccines offer many benefits. Diseases that were once devastating have been almost entirely eradicated in some areas, such as polio. Without vaccinations, these diseases can resurface.

Needles Used for Vaccinations

These unused needles will be used to administer lifesaving vaccinations.

After a recent measles case at several United States airports over spring break, many were worried their vaccines might not be effective.

Sandra Bentley, operational director of pharmacy at the University of Mississippi, said it depends on the vaccine. “Lots of things that you got when you were a child or infant will last your entire life,” she said.

It is important to listen to your doctor regarding your vaccination schedule. Sticking to the correct vaccination schedule and receiving all vaccinations and boosters will lower your chances of illness.

Sandra Bentley Displaying a Vaccine

Sandra Bentley, operational director of the pharmacy at the University of Mississippi, displays a needle used to administer a vaccination.

Doctors can also recommend booster shots for patients that may strengthen vaccines given many years ago.

“If you got all of your vaccines on schedule like you were supposed to,” Bentley said, “there’s no reason to think that you would not be covered now. But, not everyone got their vaccines when they were little, so not everyone is covered.

“Also, some people’s immune systems could have been off when they received that vaccine, and their body didn’t respond to the vaccine. This may have waned over the years, so a booster is not a bad idea if someone is really concerned.”

Needle disposal

Proper disposal of needles used for vaccination is also very important.


Screenshot of email sent by Ole Miss. Photo by Madison Stewart

Screenshot of email sent by Ole Miss. Photo by Madison Stewart

On March 19, 2018, University of Mississippi leaders released an email statement warning students, faculty and staff that those who traveled through the Memphis, New York, Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit airports over spring break may have been exposed to measles.

According to the Center for Disease Control website, the measles start with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It is  followed by a rash that spreads over the body. The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. The CDC urges the public to make sure they and their children are protected with a measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

The UM email above also reported that UM students must have their measles immunizations.

“Vaccinations have been proven by scientists to prevent disease in the human body with little to no side effects,” said UM pharmacy graduate Paige Porter. “There is more harm in not vaccinating children and increasing their risk of disease than there is to not vaccinate just because you don’t think it’s a good idea.

“In school, they taught us that the reason we are called “medical professionals” is because we are held to a different standard of medical knowledge. We are expected to know everything about these vaccinations that the general public is not expected to know. If you trust your pharmacist with your medications, why not trust them with your vaccinations?”

During her first year as a pharmacy student, Porter was required to take an immunization course to become immunization certified.

“In this course, we learned everything from the difference between all the vaccinations to how many times and when each one is administered, to the different size needles used for each vaccine,” Porter said.

Pharmacy graduate Porter. Photo by Madison Stewart

Pharmacy graduate, Paige Porter. Photo by Madison Stewart

Amy Livingston, a communications science and disorders specialist, said people should vaccinate their children.

“While I understand both sides of the situation and do not judge those who do not, it is my personal choice to vaccinate,” she said. “I have a friend whose kids are home-schooled, and she decided not to vaccinate her children. My friend believes it is her right not to, which is her choice, but those who are in public schools should consider vaccinating.”

Livingston at her desk Photo by Madison Stewart

Amy Livingston at her desk. Photo by Madison Stewart

Porter said she wasn’t surprised when she read the UM email about potential measles exposure.

“The Memphis airport is an international airport where diseases are prevalent,” she said. “Not all countries have the same vaccinations and legislations regarding vaccines as the United States. Diseases that are not seen in the U.S. because of vaccines are still prevalent in other countries, such as measles in Belgium, and travelers forget that.”

Porter said make sure to stay updated with shots and medical records before traveling to prevent the risk of contracting any diseases.

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