Thirty percent of Louisiana children behind on age-appropriate vaccinations

In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, throughout the month of August, Louisiana Healthcare Connections is promoting the importance of childhood immunizations to help improve the state's rankings in vaccinations for children.

According to America’s Health Rankings’ 2018 report for Louisiana, only 70 percent of children aged 19-35 months were up-to-date on their age-appropriate immunizations. Nationally, just over one percent of children had not received any vaccinations by the age of 24 months, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its October 2018 Morbidity and Mortality Report.

"Immunizations help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly illnesses. Children need these immunizations on schedule to keep them safe and to stop the spread of disease," says Stewart Gordon, MD, Louisiana Healthcare Connections Chief Medical Officer. "National Immunization Awareness Month represents an opportunity for communities, organizations and healthcare providers to come together to raise awareness of the importance of these vaccinations for both personal and public health."

Gordon, a pediatrician and the former chief of pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences/Earl K. Long Medical Center, encourages parents to remember the following facts about childhood vaccinations:

---Children can still get vaccines even when they have a mild illness or fever. Symptoms such as a low grade fever (less than 101 degrees), a cold, or an ear infection should not prevent a child from receiving an immunization on schedule.

---The side effects from vaccines are almost always minor, such as redness and swelling where the shot was given, and should go away within a few days. Serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are very rare.

---Scientific studies and reviews continue to show no relationship between vaccines and autism. This issue has been studied for many years, and numerous scientists and researchers have reached the same conclusion: there is no link.

---Delaying vaccinations leaves children unprotected when they need it the most. Some diseases are far more serious when children get them at a younger age. Following the approved immunization schedule protects children from these illnesses.

---Vaccinations protect everyone. These immunizations prevent the spread of disease to those who may have weaker immune systems, like the elderly, babies who are too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women and individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

"The most important responsibility that parents have is protecting their children, and these immunizations do just that," Gordon says. "We strongly encourage parents to talk to their children's physicians about vaccinations and to help their children get current on their immunizations."

To learn more about childhood vaccinations, please visit the CDC's free online resource library for parents at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents. To learn more about National Infant Immunization Week in Louisiana, please visit https://ladepthealth.blogspot.com/2019/04/is-your-baby-up-to-date-on-vaccinations.html.

Contributed by Louisiana Healthcare Connections