The new school year is almost here, but will your child be ready? Besides shopping for supplies, the back-to-school checklist should include making sure your child has an up-to-date immunization record. The Louisiana Department of Health reminds parents that ensuring children have received their necessary vaccinations is not only important, it's the law.
"I want to remind parents of their responsibility, ensuring that their children receive the shots they need," said LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee. "Vaccination is a simple process with big rewards. These vaccines help keep children healthy, so they can spend more days in the classroom and out of the doctor's office."
Louisiana law requires children age four or older who are entering kindergarten, pre-kindergarten or Head Start programs this year have proof they have received the following vaccinations:
- A booster dose of Poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
- Two doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR)
- Three doses of Hepatitis vaccine (HBV)
- Two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (Var)
- A booster dose of Diphtheria Tetanus Acellular Pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
Children in daycare need to be up-to-date with their age-appropriate immunizations.
Children who are 11 or older and are entering the sixth grade this year must have proof they have received all of the age-appropriate immunizations listed above, and at this age, children also need proof of receiving:
- Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine (MCV4)
- Tetanus Diphtheria Acellular Pertussis vaccine (Tdap)
Though not required for school entry, the Louisiana Department of Health joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians in strongly encouraging protecting preteens and teens with the HPV, human papillomavirus vaccine.
"When we don't vaccinate, we leave the door open for the return of diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which continue to be a threat to babies, children and adults in the United States," said LDH Immunization Medical Director Dr. Frank Welch. "School vaccination laws have helped eliminate major vaccine-preventable diseases. So, avoid the rush and take the time now to schedule your children for their back-to-school vaccinations."
Vaccines have proven safe and effective in preventing illness and death from many infectious diseases. Having kids vaccinated keeps them healthy and in school, protects other children and family members from getting sick, and allows children to lead longer, more productive lives.
Parents should contact their child's doctor to have children vaccinated. Children who are eligible to receive vaccinations at Parish Health Units are those that have Medicaid, those without insurance, American Indian/Alaskan native, or children who are insured but their insurance company does not cover specific vaccinations. View LDH's interactive parish map to find a parish health unit in your area. Those children who have insurance should contact their private provider for vaccination services.
Public schools in Louisiana allow exemptions from these requirements for students when vaccination is contraindicated for medical reasons or when the family has a religious/philosophical objection.
Parents can obtain copies of their child's immunization record from their child's physician, from a parish health unit, a Federally Qualified Health Center, LA MyIR or by contacting the OPH Immunization Program. If parents are not able to submit proof of updated immunizations, their children will need to be re-vaccinated to get an updated immunization record.
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 residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account, Facebook and blog.