As part of the efforts to improve health outcomes for Louisiana’s children, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has declared the week of April 24 as National Infant Immunization Awareness Week in the state of Louisiana.  Parish health units across the state, as well as partner clinics in some areas of the state, will be open extended hours on Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29 to make it easier for parents to have their children immunized. 

“Through these targeted efforts,  we are continuing the mission of the Shots for Tots program to have every child up to date on his or her immunizations by age one,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise.

Parish health units will be open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday during the week of April 24.  Shots will be provided at no cost for those who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program. This includes people receiving Medicaid, those without insurance and Native Americans.

There will be a $10 administrative fee for all others who receive shots at parish health units, though no one will be denied immunizations due to inability to pay.  Appointments are not necessary (unless otherwise noted below).  Parents should be sure to bring their child’s vaccination record.

“Having children fully vaccinated is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health initiatives available to improve our state’s health outcomes,” said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.  “I encourage all parents to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that their children are protected.”

Louisiana will join more than 500 communities across the United States during this week in highlighting the need for routine vaccinations and promoting access to health services for infants and children.  Domino’s Pizza, UnitedHealthcare, Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana have all signed on as supporters of the immunization efforts in Louisiana.

“As part of her health care reform initiative, Governor Blanco challenged the Dept. of Health and Hospitals to increase childhood vaccination rates,” said Dr. Cerise.  “By making the process more convenient, we expect to go a long way toward reaching this goal.”

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is now possible to protect children from more vaccine-preventable diseases than ever before.  “Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases,” said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, acting director of the National Immunization Program at the CDC.  “That is why it is critical that they are protected through immunization.”