BATON ROUGE- Childhood immunization rates at Louisiana parish health units increased for 2005.  Based on data from parish health unit assessments, 66 percent of children ages 19 – 35 months were up to date on their immunizations.  This is an increase from 2004, when the average was 54 percent.

The goal of Shots for Tots, Louisiana’s infant immunization initiative, is to have 90 percent of all children immunized by age two.  Parish health units provide immunizations for around 25 percent of Louisiana children.

“While we have not yet reached the goal set by our Shots for Tots program, our rates did increase significantly from 2004,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise.  “We look forward to an even bigger increase in 2006.”

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 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.

Over the past two years, DHH’s Office of Public Health has also held special vaccination outreach efforts to encourage more parents to have their children immunized.

“We are using a multi-faceted strategy to reach out to all families and make it as easy as possible to have children get the necessary shots at the right time,” Cerise said.