Staff at St. Tammany Parish Health Unit in Slidell vaccinated 373 people, during the statewide immunization drill on August 5, 6 and 7. This is more than double the patients seen at last year’s three-day immunization drill, when 158 people were given immunizations.
Every parish health unit in the state participated in the drill, an attempt to get children under age six up to date on immunizations and improve the state's ranking on vaccinations. Rankings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list Louisiana as 49th in the country for childhood immunizations. Only 70 percent of Louisiana children ages 19 months to 35 months were fully immunized last year, compared with 80 percent nationwide.
In Slidell, at both the parish health unit and Northshore Medical Center’s health fair, state public health nurses gave a total of 631 shots---mostly to school-age children who were preparing for school registration. The state and Northshore Medical Center worked together to reach people on Saturday, Aug. 7, while the health unit participated in the drill for all three days.
"We are very pleased with the success of our drill and look forward to working with St. Tammany Parish to reach more citizens with our immunization program," said Dr. Erin Brewer, medical director for the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health Region IX, which covers five parishes, including St. Tammany, in the Northshore region of Louisiana.
In Region IX, 1,362 people received immunizations during the drill, nearly double the 709 people immunized during last year’s drill. Statewide, a total of 13,312 children were immunized during the three days this year.
Brewer attributed the increases to more public awareness as well as a concerted outreach effort on the part of LDH Office of Public Health staff. Vaccination reminder postcards went out on time this year; last year they were late, causing some individuals to miss the opportunity.
Immunizations were provided at no cost to patients. This opportunity for no-cost immunizations will continue throughout the month of August at Slidell Health Unit.
In another immunization outreach initiative beginning on Aug. 31, LDH/OPH health unit staff will work with St. Tammany Parish Social Services to provide immunizations several times a month to residents in rural communities of the parish.