Baton Rouge – Louisiana has been nationally recognized as having achieved the highest rate of infants who have been vaccinated for Hepatitis B by 6 - 8 months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized the Louisiana Immunization Program Dec. 5 at the Hepatitis National Conference in Washington, D.C. Louisiana was awarded a certificate of recognition for having a 92 percent vaccination rate for this immunization, the best rate in the nation.

This rate was based on immunization rates for 2003, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

“This recognition proves that our Immunization Program continues to strive in meeting the health care reform initiative and goal of protecting the children of Louisiana from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “This is an especially great honor since we have focused heavily through our work with the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel to increase our immunization rate for children. Clearly, our efforts are paying off.”

For the past three years, LDH has worked to get every child entered into the LINKS system, which allows private physicians, hospitals and parish health units to track the immunization status of children from birth. This new system helps 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.

The LINKS system and efforts of the LDH Immunization Program proved effective during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Using the system, workers were able to track the immunization status of the children in shelters to find out who was lacking necessary immunizations and then dispatch health care workers to vaccinate them accordingly. Also, health officials from every state in the nation were able to access more than 34,000 immunization records and obtain the immunization history for children who had been displaced to other states.