Meridian Star

July 21, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Still the same

    Well, the City of Meridian and Lauderdale County is on the  way again, again and again. We, the citizens of the City of Meridian and Lauderdale County, again have new administrations, new mayor, new supervisors, new council members, and new visions of grandeur for our city and county.

    I moved back to Meridian in 1990. I have lived here for the last almost 23 years. And nothing has changed. Except, different faces of the politicians, different agendas of those politicians, different promises from those politicians and last, but not least, more, more and more money for those politicians.

    And, it really doesn't matter if the politicians are Democrat or Republican, white or black, male or female, young or old, they all want more. It has been said many, many times, if we citizens, those who are honestly responsible as to live within our means, ran our lives, businesses and bank accounts like the city, county, state and federal governments, we would be in financial hot water, too.

    The average American citizen can not float a bond issue, raise taxes, borrow money on the scale of governments or "rob Peter to pay Paul". Today's politicians have a lot of responsibility, to themselves, to those who helped to get them elected and to their respective party affiliation. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    "In other words, if the average American citizen is responsible enough to live within their means, than the, I should say, all levels of  government should be required to live within its means. There should be no more hand-outs from the federal government, overseas and at home, until they get their house in order.

    There has been very little change in the City of Meridian or Lauderdale County since 1990. Yes, we've got a mall, and MCC and the Riley presence downtown. But, if you check the population has declined or hasn't kept pace within the city limits, even after two or three city annexations.

    The streets of Meridian and the roads of Lauderdale County are either in about the same or below the shape they were in, in 1990. The crime rate has skyrocketed. Citizens can not feel safe at the Mall or in their own driveway. Why? Because, 1) the Police Department in grossly undermanned and disfunctional. They do the best they can with what they have, and I commend them for that.

    But, also, after 9/11/2001, our police departments, nationwide have had to receive training to deal with terrorists. But, paramilitary or military training of our police departments has taken away the responsibility of our police to act and show respect to the many regular American citizens, including military veterans. They no longer have the ability to show compassion or respect toward a disabled or elderly individual. Those that show respect should be given respect. I said that to say this, just because we are a diverse nation, doesn't mean that we can't work together. That's my opinion.

 Floyd T. Killebrew, Jr.

Vaccinate your children

    The Mississippi State Department of Health’s (MSDH) 2013 Back to School Immunization Week began Monday, July 15. Parents can bring their children to any county health department in the state for the proper vaccinations. We encourage all Mississippi parents to take advantage of this service to have their children properly immunized for school entry.  

    Every state has a school immunization law. Immunizations not only protect the vaccinated child from communicable diseases, but also provide protection to children and adults around them who either cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons, are too young to be vaccinated, or who have been vaccinated but did not respond to the vaccine, and are therefore unprotected.  

    Mississippi is one of 33 states that doesn’t allow philosophical exemptions.  We also do not allow religious exemptions, and we are only one of two states that do not. Religious exemptions were ruled unconstitutional by the Mississippi Supreme court in 1979 (Brown v. Stone): “The exception, which would provide for the exemption of children of parents whose religious beliefs conflict with the immunization requirements, would discriminate against the great majority of children whose parents have no such religious convictions.”  

    States with weak immunization laws are now suffering the consequences, with children becoming ill, being hospitalized and even dying from pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. For example, the state of Washington had 4,921 pertussis cases in 2012; 379 of these were in children less than a year old, 72 of these infants were hospitalized, and one died. Some of these states are now strengthening their regulations to promote universal childhood vaccination.

    Vaccination has been one of the most effective and successful public health interventions in the past century. Because of vaccines, children are at much less risk for infectious diseases that years ago were the leading causes of childhood death.  

    One of the most recent successes is the near elimination of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease, which prior to vaccines was the leading cause of acquired mental retardation in the country. Mississippi typically had between 80 and 100 cases per year of this cause of meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (blood infection) until the early 1980’s when Hib vaccines were first licensed.  

    These infected children sometimes died, and when they didn’t die, often had lifelong disabilities. Hib meningitis has now essentially disappeared in Mississippi and the U.S. This is just one of many successes in the battle against infectious disease, childhood death, and disability.

    Because we no longer see much of the diseases that vaccines prevent, it is easy to take vaccination successes for granted, or to think that vaccinations are no longer necessary, or that the risks outweigh the benefits. However it is because of these vaccinations that many of these diseases stay at low levels in our country, and the vaccination rates have to be maintained to keep the disease rates low. Only smallpox has been completely eradicated, doing away with the need for the vaccine.    

    Vaccinations have been studied over and over again to look for an association between vaccines themselves and/or the number of vaccines given, and autism spectrum disorder. No association has been found. Indeed, vaccinating children who have these disorders is just as important as vaccinating children who are not autistic.

    Mississippi’s high rates of immunization among schoolchildren have considerably lowered our risk for communicable disease outbreaks. Vaccinating our children is one of the best things we can do for them and for the people around them. Please help us keep the state healthy and immunize your children.

Mary Currier, MD, MPH

State Health Officer

Mississippi State Department of Health