The 22nd Annual Louisiana Shots for Tots State Conference was held November 6-7 in New Orleans. A new consumer access module known as MyIR was unveiled by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital's (DHH) Office of Public Health's - (OPH) Immunization Program. MyIR provides Louisiana families with access to their personal immunization records and important tool in helping Louisiana residents stay up-to-date with the recommended immunization schedule.
Recognizing Louisiana's past success with immunization rates, the conference highlighted vaccination rates in Louisiana children by age 24 months. Louisiana's immunization coverage rate according to the National Immunization Survey by 24 months of age is 72.1 percent, only slightly below the national average of 72.7 percent. These vaccinations are used to protect against 14 serious childhood diseases including whooping cough and measles.
These results mean that the vast majority of Louisiana parents are making sure that their children receive life-saving vaccinations against potentially serious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years. According to their analysis, hospitalizations avoided and lives saved through vaccination will save nearly $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs.
"A substantial number of children in the United States still aren't adequately protected from vaccine-preventable diseases," said Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "The suffering or death of even one child from a disease that could be prevented from a vaccine is an unnecessary human tragedy. As a parent and grandmother, I call on every Louisiana caregiver to ensure that the children in your life are protected."
A recent consumer access module known as MyIR was introduced by OPH. MyIR is the first online service to all Louisiana residents offering personal and family immunization records from the state immunization registry, LINKS. MyIR helps guard the family health by keeping track of everyone's completed immunizations and provides reminders of when an immunization is due or past due for each member of the family. MyIR also allows families to print their official immunization certificates at home without a doctor's assistance. The electronic tool stores historical data, saves time, and is free to access.
"The conference energized immunization advocates with strategies to increase vaccinations and improve the length and quality of life, reaching even the most underserved populations," says Ruben Tapia, Director - OPH Immunization Director.
At the conference, several providers were recognized for their achievements in high immunization coverage rates for children by age 24 months and being pro up-to-date vaccination advocates. Those recognized were LSU Family Practice at Lake Charles, Mansoor Pediatrics at Goodwood, Dr. Robert P. Blereau, North Oaks Pediatrics, St. Charles Community Health Center and Morehouse Community Health Center. Monica Johnson, LPN from LSUHSC-Alexandria Family Residency Program, was presented with the official 2014 CDC Champions Award for her tireless work to improve the health and lives of young children by ensuring that immunization is a priority. Johnson was nominated by her peers, and selected as a Champion among healthcare professionals, community advocates, and other immunization leaders for making a significant contribution to public health in Louisiana through her work in children's immunization. The highest award, the Louisiana Shots for Tots Diaper Pin Award, was presented to Dr. Robert P. Blereau who has been committed to the importance of immunizations over his 53 years of practice in the State of Louisiana and whose clinic most recently averaged 87 percent success in a series of vaccinations for children by the age of 24 months.
Shots for Tots aims to improve immunization coverage as a whole. The conference recognized best practices in helping to achieve their 2020 goal that every child be vaccinated with the correct dosages by age 24 months. Shots for Tots works cooperatively to further educate and update parents and providers in achieving the highest level of immunizations for Louisiana's most valuable assets, its children.
Each year the conference serves as a rally for providers' latest information on immunization recommendations. It fosters the opportunity to exchange information and improve immunization coverage rates. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. Giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way.
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.