Mumps outbreaks in Alaska, time to vaccinate your kids

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - It's almost time for kids to head back to school, but before they can start their classes, they'll need to be vaccinated. We spoke to a public health nurse about why this is an essential item on your child's back-to-school checklist.
The clinic says 'Don't Wait, Vaccinate'. It's something every kid has to have done before returning to school, unless they have an exemption form. But many health officials would tell cautious parents this is a safe and effective way to keep your kid protected from potentially fatal conditions.
Immunization laws are there to keep children safe from serious and deadly diseases, even ones you might not think are still around. Alaska is currently experiencing an outbreak in mumps. And the Department of Health and Social Services says over the past year, they've seen 389 cases. So they suggest keeping your vaccinations up to date.
Some parents might be cautious, but the public health center says if people are still unsure, they should talk with their medical provider. Vaccines can have potential symptoms but they say contracting the disease could be much worse.
"And I know there that are some thoughts out there with parents that make them wonder if the vaccines are really safe. They are safe. I think getting the disease or the infection outweighs what that day of maybe feeling a little ill or having a sore arm is really better than when you're sick with the flu and you are really sick," said public health nurse, Shelly Foint-Anderson.
With the rush, medical providers say now is a good time to schedule an appointment. That way, kids will be ready for school and safe from contagious diseases. Immunization clinics will be operating around town before school starts. For information on where and when these events will be held, you can call the public health center at 452-1776.