BATON ROUGE, La.— Now that the 2008-2009 school year has ended in Louisiana, it’s time for parents to start on some summer homework for their kids’ health.
Louisiana has issued new vaccination requirements for students, effective this coming 2009-2010 school year, and it’s not too soon for parents to make sure their children’s shots are up to date.
In addition to the scheduled immunizations already required in state law, two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine will be required for children four years and older who are entering kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, daycare or HeadStart programs in the fall. 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.
The chicken pox and meningitis vaccines have been recommended for several years. However, by requiring these immunizations for school attendance, the State of Louisiana is now taking an important step to protect Louisiana’s children, from individual kids to entire classrooms, from disease.
The Louisiana Department of Health is working closely with schools to collect students’ immunization data to monitor and ensure kids are on their proper vaccination schedules.
State law already requires standard immunizations for diseases like hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella for all children depending on their age. See the chart at the end of this release for details.
Dr. Frank Welch, medical director for the Immunization Program, urges parents to contact their health care provider to make appointments for their children, or to ask questions about vaccinations.
“Proper vaccination sometimes takes more than one visit, and your child is not fully protected until all vaccines are finished,” Dr. Welch said. “However, if you show proof that he or she is in the process of receiving a vaccine series, your child can enter and remain in school.”
Louisiana residents needing a copy of their immunization record or their child’s record, can get a copy from any parish health unit, regardless of where the shots were received or where the individual currently resides. This is provided by the LDH Louisiana Immunization Network for Kids Statewide (LINKS) database. This system allows providers to track the immunization status of children from birth. The LINKS database is also used to help 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.
For a list of parish health units, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=223.
If you are unable to get your records directly from your health care provider, the LINKS system or any other method, you will need to get re-vaccinated in order to get a new record.
The Louisiana Department of Health serves 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, visithttp://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.