BATON ROUGE— Louisiana has moved from being among the lowest-ranked states in the nation in child immunizations in 2006 to an all-time-high ranking in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rising in just two years from 44th to 2nd, Louisiana has made enormous strides in immunizing children aged 19-35 months.
Efforts by the state and its immunization partners were lauded today by Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal, Secretary Alan Levine of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and other state health officials at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital’s Goodwood Clinic in Baton Rouge. Last year, the First Lady, in partnership with Secretary Levine and several LDH partners, including Wal-Mart USA, launched a Shots for Tots immunization campaign aimed at improving immunizations among children in this age group.
The recent National Immunization Survey released by the CDC shows that 81.9 percent of Louisiana’s children aged 19-35 months that were born between 2005 and 2007 received all of their recommended vaccinations by age 24 months, exceeding the national average of 76.1 percent as well as the national goal of 80 percent. In 2006, the state’s immunization rate for infants was 69.5 percent, 44th among the states.
Louisiana achieved further success by improving its immunization rate while the national average decreased. According to the survey, the national average declined 90 basis points while Louisiana’s immunization rate improved by more than 1,200 basis points.
Immunization is important because it has proven to be a safe and effective way of preventing illness and death caused by many infectious diseases. The low cost and high effectiveness of vaccination ensures that every dollar spent on vaccination is repaid many times over because of reduced hospital costs, in addition to lives that remain productive.
First Lady Supriya Jindal said, "As the CDC indicates, more Louisiana children are now receiving timely vaccinations than ever in the history of the state – and that is phenomenal news. It’s heartening to see so many parents take the proactive steps necessary for protecting our state’s children. We must take this as an opportunity to keep the momentum up and work toward a future where all of Louisiana’s children are properly protected from preventable disease."
“There is nothing more important than giving our children the opportunity to enjoy good health,” said Department of Health Secretary Alan Levine. “This terrific improvement in our ranking is tangible evidence of our state's commitment to our children. This didn't happen because of government acting alone. It happened because of the hard work of our pediatricians, nurses, immunization program staff, parish health units, Shots for Tots, our coalition partners and immunization champions throughout the state."
Wal-Mart Regional Health and Wellness Director Ken Cartwright said, “At Wal-Mart our Health and Wellness division takes health care very seriously in order to help people save money and live better. That is why we were delighted to partner with First Lady Jindal to bring greater awareness to the importance of child immunization. Wal-Mart appreciates the strong level of leadership that First Lady Jindal provides the citizens of Louisiana.”
Levine said, “While we celebrate today, there is more to be done. We will continue working to not only keep our current high ranking, but also to continue our upward trend and protect even more of Louisiana’s children in the future.”
DHH's Office of Public Health has made immunization of every child in Louisiana a high priority. The Louisiana Legislature supported this philosophy by requiring immunization for all children in schools and childcare facilities in Louisiana.
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 http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.