In order to help parents prepare their children for school and daycare this fall, the Louisiana Department of Health --- Office of Public Health, through its Shots for Tots program, is holding its third annual no-cost immunization effort throughout the state. This continues the mission of the Shots for Tots program, to have every child up-to-date on his or her immunizations by age one.
The drill begins Thursday, Aug. 4 and will continue through Saturday, Aug. 6, in parish health units across the state, as well as in partner clinics in some areas of the state. While children are the primary focus of the program, older children and adults also may get any necessary immunizations, such as tetanus shots.
According to Dr. Fred Cerise, LDH secretary, in addition to furthering the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel goal of bringing more Louisiana children up to date on their immunizations, the program helps state and local health officials test each region’s ability to mass vaccinate large numbers of people in case of a massive health threat or outbreak.
“Last year, we vaccinated more than 13,000 children in three days, and we hope this year’s immunization drive will be successful as well,” Cerise said. “Our Office of Public Health has increased efforts to vaccinate children and has put on the back-to-school drive for the past two years, all with the goal of improving Louisiana’s childhood immunization ranking. We believe that through activities like these, we will be successful.”
Cerise added that the funding for this initiative is made possible by a grant from the CDC to increase the level of biopreparedness and emergency response in Louisiana. The National Immunization Program also serves as a sponsor of this event, providing the funds to purchase vaccines in state.
During the three days of the program, parents may bring children to parish health units and clinics across the state to get their immunizations without an appointment (unless otherwise noted below). Clinic hours at parish health units are as follows: Thursday, August 4, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parents should also bring their children’s shot records.
For the past three years, LDH has worked to get every child entered into the LINKS system, which allows private physicians, hospitals and parish health units to track the immunization status of children from birth. This new system helps ensure that all children are properly vaccinated, and in the event of a public health emergency, allows health officials to easily know who has been immunized against a specific disease.
A list of locations for the clinics in each region of the state is provided on the next page. For more information, contact your nearest parish health unit, or go to www.dhh.state.la.us.
Region 1 - New Orleans Area
Region 2 - Baton Rouge Area
Region 3 - Houma/thibodaux Area
Region 4 - Lafayette Area
Region 5 - Lake Charles Area
Region 6 - Central Louisiana
Region 7 - Northwest Area
Region 8 - Northeast Area
Region 9 - Florida Parishes