The school year is almost here, but will your child be ready? Besides shopping for supplies, your back-to-school checklist should include making sure your child has an up-to-date shot record. The Louisiana Department of Health wants to remind parents that it's important and it's the law.

State law requires that children 4 years old and older who are entering kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, daycare or Head Start programs must have received a booster dose of Poliovirus vaccine (IPV), two doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR), three doses of Hepatitis vaccine (HBV), two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (Var) and a booster dose of Diphtheria Tetanus Acellular Pertussis vaccine (DtaP). Also, children who are 11 years old or are entering the sixth grade must have proof of all age-appropriate immunizations, including a new meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine requirement.

"When we don't vaccinate, we leave the door open for the return of diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which continue to be a threat to babies, children, and adults in the United States," said LDH Immunization Medical Director Dr. Frank Welch. "School vaccination laws have helped eliminate major vaccine-preventable diseases. So, avoid the rush and take the time now to schedule your children for their back-to-school vaccinations."

Vaccines have a proven safety record and are safe and effective in preventing illness and death from many infectious diseases. Having kids vaccinated keeps them healthy and in school and protects other children and even other family members from getting sick. The low cost and high effectiveness of vaccination ensure that every dollar spent on vaccination is repaid many times over because of reduced hospital costs, in addition to lives that remain productive.

Parents should contact their physician, a Parish Health Unit, or a Federally Qualified Health Center to make an appointment to get their child vaccinated and to get a copy of their child's shot record. If you are unable to get your child's records directly from your health care provider, the Louisiana Immunization Network for Kids Statewide database (LINKS), or any other method, your child will need to get re-vaccinated in order to get a new record.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.