USD 259 talks mumps prevention

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As mumps continue to spread across the state of Kansas and around the country, taking action to prevent the disease is gaining attention, even in Sedgwick County where, so far, there have been no confirmed cases of mumps in 2017.

As of right now, the most effective way to prevent mumps is the MMR vaccination, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

For school districts like Wichita Public Schools USD 259, following state guidelines for vaccinations is mandatory, and now, keeping track of vaccine records and mumps symptoms holds a new level of importance in light of the recent outbreaks around Kansas.

“These communicable diseases are preventable,” said Kimber Kasitz, USD 259 coordinator of health services. “Vaccines prevent the diseases from spreading and once these diseases start spreading, if we were not getting the vaccines, they would spread very rapidly.”

At USD 259 nurses are schooled in exactly what to look for when it comes to diseases like mumps.

Some symptoms include:
. Fatigue
. Body aches
. Loss of appetite
. Swelling in the neck, lymph nodes and salivary glands

To keep up with state guidelines, each year by May 15, the district sends a letter home to parents letting them know what immunizations are needed for the next school year.

The idea is that parents will take the summer to get their kids vaccinated before sending them back to class in the fall.

In the Wichita Public Schools district, students have until October 20 to show proof of vaccination or they risk being barred from class until they do.

There are two exemptions to the district’s vaccine requirement: medical and religious exemptions.

Medical exemptions are typically the case when a child is at risk of harm should they be vaccinated. Examples of those situations include children with autoimmune diseases or who have undergone chemotherapy.

Medical exemptions require a signed note from a doctor.

Religious exemptions require a signed statement by a parent or guardian. Those exemptions do not include philosophical reasons, Kasitz said.

Of the 51,000 students in the Wichita Public Schools district, 408 students are exempt from vaccinations for religious reasons and 96 for medical reasons.

The district keeps track of which students have their vaccines and which don’t in an effort to keep everyone safe.

“If we find out that we have a student that does have a communicable disease, we can check to see if anyone in that classroom has a religious exemption or a medical exemption and if we need to take further steps to exclude that child for safety reasons,” Kasitz said.

For more information on the state’s vaccine requirements click here.

You can read more about the mumps disease here.