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Vax Matters Trailer

Vaccines matter. But how do we separate the truths about vaccines from the myths that we hear? In today’s instant social world, we’re flooded with factual and fictitious information regarding immunization every day. In Vax Matters, the new podcast from the Louisiana Department of Health, we work to uncover the truth and expose the myths surrounding vaccines and immunization. If you’ve got questions about vaccines, we’ve got answers. From the first vaccine ever used to the vaccines created to fight the current pandemic, we’ll dive into every immunization topic under the sun to arrive at the truth.

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Episode 1:

COVID Vaccines with Dr. Joseph Kanter

Odds are you’ve heard something about vaccines in the last month, but do you know if it was true? In Vax Matters, we’re uncovering the facts and exposing the myths around vaccines in every episode. In episode 1, we address the elephant in the room: COVID-19. Joined by Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer at the Louisiana Department of Health, we’ll cover the pandemic from end to end, including the development of the vaccine and its social impact.

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Episode 2:

History of Vaccines Part 1 with Dr. Frank Welch

With the waves of information we get about vaccines each day, how do we separate truth from myth? In Vax Matters, we’re exploring vaccines in depth, digging into common misconceptions and uncovering the real truth. In today’s episode we begin our journey through the history of vaccines with Dr. Frank Welch, immunization expert and former Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness at the Louisiana Department of Health.

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Episode 3:

History of Vaccines Part 2 with Dr. Frank Welch

There’s a common saying that if you don’t know your history, you’re destined to repeat it. That makes today’s episode so important. In it, we’ll continue the journey through vaccine history with Dr. Frank Welch, immunization expert and former Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness at the Louisiana Department of Health.

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Episode 4:

Vaccines & Medical Mistrust with Dr. Hebert-Magee

Many researchers have begun exploring the issue of medical mistrust, which is prevalent among the African American population and other minorities. Medical mistrust refers to a lack of trust in health care providers and organizations to have patients’ best interests in mind or provide competent care that produces the best possible results. In today’s episode of Vax Matters, we’re taking a closer look at minority mistrust of vaccines specifically and the U.S. healthcare system in general. Joining us to help lead this delicate discussion is Dr. Shantel Hebert-Magee.

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Episode 5:

Vaccines & Fertility with Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell

How do vaccines affect fertility? You may already have an opinion, but Vax Matters will give you the facts. Tune in to this episode as we explore vaccines and their effect on fertility, joined by Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, a Board-certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Head of Women's Services at Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, La.

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Episode 6:

Why It’s Important to Get Children Vaccinated with Dr. John Vanchiere

The truths behind immunization are there, we just have to do a little digging. In Vax Matters, we’re exploring all areas of immunization and presenting only the facts. If you’re a parent or grandparent, today’s episode is especially for you, as it highlights the importance of childhood vaccines. Joining us are guests Dr. John Vanchiere and Brittany Tully.

Dr. Vanchiere is the Chief of LSU Health Shreveport Department of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases Section and immediate past president of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Brittany Tully is the Region 4 communications coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Health. She’s also the mom of three, so she’ll be able to provide a parent’s perspective on the importance of childhood vaccines.

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Episode 7:

HPV: Human Papillomavirus with Dr. Bocchini

Today is all about human papillomavirus, or HPV. How did it come about? What were the complications from the virus? How was the vaccine developed? We invited Dr. Joseph Bocchini on Vax Matters to help us answer these questions. Dr. Bocchini currently serves as Director of Willis-Knighton Children’s Health Services and Professor and Vice Chairman of the Tulane University Department of Pediatrics.

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Episode 8:

MMR: Measles, Mumps & Rubella with Dr. Guerguis

Vax Matters exists to provide clarity when it comes to vaccines. Today’s episode brings in Dr. Sandra Guerguis, who will focus on measles, mumps and rubella, and the vaccine developed to defend against those diseases in children. Dr. Guerguis specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Infectious Disease center in Baton Rouge.

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Vax Update:

Monkeypox & COVID-19 – Where We Are (July 2022) with Dr. Joseph Kanter

In this special bonus episode, we invite the Louisiana Department of Health State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter back to the show to talk about the appearance of the monkeypox virus and its present and future impact on public health.

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Episode 9:

Childhood Vaccines & Autism with Dr. Elizabeth Margolis

Do childhood vaccines play a role in causing autism? This episode of Vax Matters answers that question. Dr. Elizabeth Margolis, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, joins the show to help us get to the bottom of it. Today’s episode is brought to you in part by The Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. Listeners can find out more about the work they do for the New Orleans autism community by visiting www.asgno.org.

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Episode 10:

Vaccine Types & How They Work Part 1 with Dr. Paulette Grey Riveria

We receive plenty of vaccines throughout the course of our lives, so we should know how they work. This episode and the next explore the different types and the way they function. Dr. Paulette Grey Riveria, Capital Region Medical Director and Administrator at the Louisiana Department of Health, joins the show to bring her insight to the conversation.

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Episode 11:

Vaccine Types & How They Work Part 2 with Dr. Paulette Grey Riveria

You don’t have to be a doctor to understand vaccines. Just listen to Vax Matters. This episode continues a discussion on modern vaccines and the way they work with Dr. Paulette Grey Riveria, Capital Region Medical Director and Administrator at the Louisiana Department of Health.

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Episode 12:

Herd Immunity with Dr. Eric Griggs

Chances are you’ve heard about herd immunity, but do you really know what it means? In this episode, we talk to Dr. Eric Griggs, director of Community Medicine at Access Health Louisiana, who will guide us through every aspect of herd immunity.

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Episode 13:

Athletes & Vaccines with Dr. Catherine O’Neal

Across professional sports, many athletes were reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of this trend, some may wonder if vaccines really can affect athletic performance. We’ll find out on this episode of Vax Matters, where we’re joined by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. Dr. O’Neal is an associate professor of Clinical Medicine specializing in Infectious Diseases at the LSU Health Internal Medicine Residency in Baton Rouge.

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Episode 14:

The Flu Vaccine with Dr. Brody LeBlanc

Influenza, or the flu, is another severe disease that fortunately has a vaccine to prevent it. But why do people have to receive the flu shot once a year? Dr. Brody LeBlanc, family medicine doctor at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, lends his expertise to help us learn why.

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Episode 15:

How Do Outbreaks Happen with Dr. Catherine O’Neal

How do outbreaks happen? What role do vaccines play in ending them? Dr. Catherine O’Neal joins us again to explore the history and the answers. Dr. O’Neal is an associate professor of Clinical Medicine specializing in Infectious Diseases at the LSU Health Internal Medicine Residency in Baton Rouge.

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Episode 16:

Top Vaccine Myths with Dr. David Holcombe

We hear about vaccines every day, but what do we really know about them? Our Vax Matters podcast exists to provide you with the truths behind immunization from all angles. Today’s show discusses the top myths we often hear about vaccines. Guest Dr. David Holcombe, one of the regional medical directors for the Office of Public Health, will be leading this conversation with us.

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Episode 17:

New Era of Medicine: The Future of Vaccines with Dr. Lisa Morici

What does the future hold for vaccines? You may not know now, but you will after listening to this special episode of Vax Matters. Dr. Lisa Morici of the Tulane University School of Medicine joins us to illuminate the progress of vaccine discovery and development for the future.

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Episode 18:

COVID Boosters with Dr. Jennifer Avegno

This Vax Matters episode delves into the details of the COVID-19 booster, addressing concerns and questions from across the board. Dr. Jennifer Avegno of LSU Health guest-stars on our show today to cover the subject comprehensively.

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Vax Update:

Children & the COVID Vaccine (November 2022) with Dr. Evelyn Twentyman

With infants and children, how do the different age groups rank in number of COVID-19 vaccinations? The CDC’s Dr. Evelyn Twentyman appears on our show to dive into these rates and why they stand where they are.

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Episode 19:

Hepatitis A & B with Dr. Gia Tyson

Dr. Gia Tyson, head of hepatology and the Liver Center at Ochsner Health in Baton Rouge, lends her expertise in this episode as we explore both hepatitis A & B, as well as the vaccine developed to defend us against these diseases.

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Episode 20:

Shingles with Dr. Frank Welch

A familiar voice returns on this episode—Dr. Frank Welch! Dr. Welch took us through the history of vaccines early on in this series, but now lends his experience and knowledge to us again as we talk about the shingles virus and the vaccine developed to defend against it.

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Episode 21:

Building Vaccine Confidence & Addressing Misinformation with Gretchen Schulz & Alex Michel

Episode guests Gretchen Schulz and Alex Michel from Johns Hopkins University talk about why many remain hesitant to receive vaccines, and how fears about the COVID-19 vaccine may have encouraged that feeling.

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Episode 22:

Cancer & Vaccines with Dr. Sanjay Juneja

Guest Dr. Sanjay Juneja explores the relation between cancer and vaccines. He currently serves as Baton Rouge General’s chief of oncology service line and is triple board certified in hematology, medical oncology and internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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Episode 23:

Meningitis with Krystle Beauchamp

This episode hits a personal note, as guest Krystle Beauchamp joins us to talk about meningitis, a disease she contracted and survived during college. Now the communications manager at Parish of Caddo, Krystle has become an advocate for meningitis awareness and prevention efforts.

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Episode 24:

Safety & Approval Process of Vaccines with Dr. Evelyn Twentyman

We’ve got plenty of vaccines in today’s world, but how does a vaccine become approved for public use? CDC Epidemiologist Dr. Evelyn Twentyman runs us through the details on this heavily discussed and relevant subject.

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Episode 25:

Overcoming Barriers to Getting a Shot with Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh

Many face barriers when it comes to getting a shot. What are they and why? Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, regional medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health’s Region 5, provides an expert’s perspective in this episode.

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Vax Update:

HPV & Cervical Cancer with Dr. Tina Stefanski

What’s the relation between human papillomavirus (known as HPV) and cervical cancer? Is there one? LDH Regional Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski fills us in on this special Vax Update segment of Vax Matters.

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Episode 26:

Why Viruses Change - Variants, Strains & Mutations with Dr. Jeremy Kamil

Viruses have the potential to mutate and change, but why? What causes mutation in viruses? Dr. Jeremy Kamil provides us with the answers in this episode, bringing his wealth of knowledge in virus and disease spread as the Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at LSU Health in Shreveport.

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Episode 27:

Why Health Equity Matters with Reagan-Carter

There’s more to health equity than meets the eye. In this episode, the Louisiana Primary Care Association’s Director of Health Policy & Government Affairs Raegan Carter joins us to explain what health equity is, the barriers we currently face to achieving it and why it’s so crucial in society today.

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Episode 28:

Vaccines & Disease Severity with Dr. Susan Hassig

One of the main reasons vaccines are developed is to avoid a disease’s most serious consequences. So how do vaccines match up against diseases as they get more severe? Dr. Susan Hassig of Tulane University brings her expertise to bear on the subject as she joins our show.

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Episode 29:

Chickenpox (Varicella) with Dr. James Wayne

Ever heard of chickenpox?... So have we. But the notorious illness is more than meets the eye—and still exists today. Dr. James Wayne of Ochsner Health breaks down the disease and its vaccine in this episode of Vax Matters.

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Episode 30:

Polio with Dr. Garry

Polio... the disease that affected millions in the 20th century and still has a presence today. This episode brings in Dr. Robert Garry of Tulane University School of Medicine to walk us through the history of polio and where it stands today.

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Episode 31:

Vaccines & The Immunocompromised with Dr. MarkAlain Déry

On this episode, we welcome Dr. MarkAlain Déry of Access Health Louisiana Primary Care to talk about vaccines and their relation to people with compromised immune systems. Dr. Déry specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-C, and STIs.

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Episode 32:

More That Matters: HIV

Let’s talk about more that matters–like HIV. In this first special episode, we bring in guest Jimmy Gale of the Louisiana Department of Health to help us understand the devastating presence of HIV in the world.

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Episode 33:

More That Matters: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Get the inside scoop on the world’s most notorious disease accomplice: Mosquitoes. In this episode, we go far beyond the bites to talk about mosquitoes’ role as disease carriers throughout history, which has caused epidemics all over. Research entomologist Jennifer Breaux joins us as our guest expert.

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Episode 34:

Shots for Tots with Dr. John Vanchiere

Do you know your child’s immunization schedule? It could save their life from a serious disease. In this episode, Dr. John Vanchiere of LSU Health in Shreveport highlights the Louisiana Shots for Tots Coalition and their work in helping parents stay up-to-date in giving their children the vaccines they need.

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Episode 35:

Emergency Preparedness & Generator Safety

How prepared are YOU to deal with a natural disaster? Find out on this special episode with guest Dr. Rosanne Prats, executive director of emergency response at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. We not only discuss emergency preparedness but also generator safety before, during and after a storm.

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Episode 36:

More That Matters - Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease affects many of us, so we’re fully diving into the topic today. While you may have heard of this disease, it is serious and widespread–disproportionately affecting Black or African American populations. Our thanks to Erin Fulbright of The Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana for being our guest on this episode.

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Episode 37:

More That Matters: Episode 37 - Emergency Medicine - ER vs Urgent Care

Have emergency medicine questions? Find the answer in this episode as Dr. Eric Brooks of the Louisiana Department of Health explores topics from the emergency room to urgent care.

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Episode 38:

Travel Safety

Planning an overseas trip? Many of the places we want to visit have diseases of their own, which require the right vaccines to protect us. Hear from Dr. MarkAlain Dery of Access Health Louisiana as he outlines the vaccines we may need in different areas of the world.

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Episode 39:

More That Matters - The Opioid Crisis

Opioids have become a worldwide crisis again, and managing it means understanding the nature of opioids and their effects. On this More That Matters segment, Louisiana State Opioid Response Project Director Melinda Robertson lends her experience and expertise to the conversation.

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Episode 40:

More That Matters - Mental Health

We venture into mental health and why it’s so critical to understand, particularly as we manage mental health crises that affect individuals all over the world. Licensed mental health counselor Alfonso Holmes joins us on this episode to broaden our knowledge and understanding of the crisis.

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Episode 41:

More That Matters - Pneumonia

Pneumonia: The disease you still hear about, but maybe don’t think too much about. A big reason is the vaccine scientists developed to help prevent it in the 1980s. Join us and Dr. Katherine Baumgarten of St. Bernard Parish Hospital and Ochsner Health as we talk through the subject.

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Episode 42:

More That Matters - Long Covid

What is long or post-COVID condition? Clinical neurologist Dr. Michele Longo appears on the show to discuss the long-term impacts of COVID-19 both socially and individually. Dr. Longo currently works at the Tulane Center for Clinical Neurosciences at Tulane School of Medicine and runs the Tulane Neurology Post-COVID Care Clinic.

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Episode 43:

More That Matters - Obesity

More That Matters is back…and obesity is more than meets the eye. From raising your disease risk to increasing the burden of medical bills, this chronic condition brings numerous hidden costs. Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Melissa Martin, who heads its Greaux Healthy program, joins us on this episode to talk about obesity, its widespread consequences and what we can do to reverse the trends.

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Episode 44:

More That Matters - Young Children & Covid

Your baby won’t tell you she has COVID, but she just might have it after all. Tune in as we talk with Region 8 Medical Director Dr. Tonya Hunter on how COVID can affect young children, and what we can do to watch for the virus in our little ones.

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Meet The Hosts

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Diane Deaton


Diane Deaton joins Vax Matters as a host on our journey through immunization. She spent years broadcasting weather forecasts for WAFB Channel 9 News in Baton Rouge, La., before retiring in 2021. Outside of her work in news, she maintains an active presence in the community, where she has helped build several Habitat for Humanity houses and serves on their Board of Directors. She is beyond excited to walk through the world of vaccines and uncover the facts.

Deon Guillory


Deon Guillory joins Vax Matters as a co-host on our journey through immunization. He worked most recently as a reporter for a TV station in Baton Rouge. Louisiana-born and raised, Deon grew up in Opelousas and went to school in New Orleans. Since entering the field, he has worked at stations all over the country as a producer, reporter and news anchor. As a long-time reporter and fact-finder, Deon can’t wait to dive into the world of immunization and track down the facts.

Clay Young


Clay Young joins Vax Matters as a co-host on our journey through immunization. Boasting a career of over 25 years in local broadcast television and radio, Clay has worked for six broadcasting companies through the years in the Baton Rouge market and beyond. His radio and television interviews have included national guests such as former Pres. Bill Clinton, Col. Oliver North, and Dick Morris, while he also conducted weekly interviews with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is thrilled to be behind the microphone again on Vax Matters to help listeners learn about the world of vaccines.