Staff at the Livingston Parish health unit vaccinated 204 people during this year's immunization drill that ended Saturday, surpassing last year’s mark of 195, health officials reported Monday.
Every parish health unit in the state participated in the drill, an attempt to get children under age 6 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.
"We are very pleased with the number of people we reached with our drill," said Dr. Erin Brewer, medical director for the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health Region 9, which covers five parishes in the Northshore region of Louisiana.
In Region 9, 1362 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 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.
“Our goal is to ensure that all children in Louisiana, including Livingston Parish, are up to date on their immunizations by age one. With the success of our recent drill, we are moving toward that goal,” said Dr. Brewer. “Another benefit to the community is that conducting these drills also ensures that public health staff are ready for an emergency,” she added.
Parish health units gave immunizations at no cost to clients, without appointments. This opportunity will continue throughout the month of August for people who were unable to visit a health unit from August 5-7.