Officials: Measles not a threat to vaccinated students
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JACKSON, Tenn. — As measles cases spread across the U.S., school staff in Jackson said parents should not be worried. “People that have had their children have their shots shouldn’t be concerned,” said Annette Wilson, coordinated school health administrator for Jackson-Madison County Schools. At least eight shots are required before a student can enroll in public school in Tennessee. Each offers protection against a potentially deadly disease. Wilson said sometimes she sees parents concerned about possible side effects from the vaccines. Wilson said parents should take responsibility for the immunizations. “I think parents do need to be diligent though, that they continue to follow the state guideline and CDC recommendations and get all their children immunized as we’re recommended to do.” Some say parents choosing not to vaccinate children could explain the spread of dozens of measles cases. “We’ve seen with what’s happened, and it’s because people that did not get their children vaccinated,” Wilson said. “We thought measles was gone, and we’ve seen some cases come back.” Tennessee exempts students of public schools from vaccinations for only two reasons — a religious conflict or health concerns. Private schools can make their own guidelines. University School of Jackson holds its students to the state requirements. “They’re the experts really when it comes to stuff like that,” USJ Head of School Stuart Hirstein said. “So, I think it’s just good policy to follow state guidelines.” When WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News asked if either school system felt measles could be a threat, both agreed it is not likely. “Our kids are vaccinated, so I don’t see it being a threat at all at our school,” Hirstein said. Wilson said students can get vaccines from local health departments or clinics. Wilson said in most cases insurance companies will cover the cost of the shots and health departments and clinics will offer them at little to no cost. WBBJ did reach out to several private schools in Jackson about vaccine policies including Jackson Christian School, Trinity Christian Academy, Sacred Heart of Jesus High School and Augustine School. Staff with Augustine School said they abide by state vaccination requirements. Trinity Christian Academy said they did not want to participate. All other calls went unreturned.