Back To School: Time To Check Immunization Records

mumps outbreak
Dallas County Health officials host immunization clinics year round and even offer immunizations at events like the Mayor's Back To School Fair. (File Photo)

BEST SOUTHWEST—The start of another school year means it’s time to check your student’s immunization records. It is important to make sure they are up to date, to guard against any communicable disease. It’s not just the youngest students who need to have their immunization shots current.

Acting now will help ensure that your children are ready for classes on the first day of school,” said Tammara Scroggins, Dallas County Health and Human Services Public Health Communicable Disease Assistant Director.

As shown by the outbreak of mumps at Cedar Hill and DeSoto High Schools last February and March, older students can also be at risk of contracting contagious diseases when their immunization is not updated. Following the initial outbreak of mumps at Cedar Hill High School on February 9, there were 49 more cases reported between students and teachers.

There were 63 cases of mumps reported in Dallas County, with 14 unrelated mumps cases reported in Mesquite, Dallas and DeSoto. Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by a person suffering from the mumps, such as cups or soft drink cans, could carry the virus, which may spread to others.

Mumps patients often show symptoms of fever, headache and swelling of the salivary glands, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.

“Parents and guardians don’t need to wait until the last minute to check immunizations off the list,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “With the mumps outbreak last school year, it is imperative that parents make sure their children’s immunizations are up to date. State law mandates all immunizations should be completed by the first date of attendance, and fully vaccinated against certain diseases.”

Following the mumps outbreak, Cedar Hill ISD and Dallas County Health and Human Services partnered to host clinics on the high school campus. DCHHS provided vaccines for students or teachers or family members whose immunization for mumps was not up to date.

Cedar Hill ISD Director of Communication Jamie Brown said, “Since February, we have hosted three booster shot clinics at the high school. Two additional for students who come from the Ninth Grade Center to attend classes or activities.”

DCHHS Health officials urge immunization to protect against and prevent the spread of mumps. People with two rounds of mumps vaccinations (such as two MMR vaccines) are usually immune from mumps.

“At two doses, the MMR vaccine has 88% effectiveness,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, Dallas County medical director. “Getting vaccinated is the best option for protection in addition to washing hands frequently and cleaning/disinfecting objects or surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.”