With the new school year fast approaching, children need to be ready by having the most up-to-date immunization record possible.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says 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,” sad DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert. “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 that children ages 4 and 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, as well. 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 -Tetanus Diphtheria Acellular Pertussis vaccine (Tdap) "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 DHH 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." Parents should contact their child's doctor to have their child 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. “The health unit offers shots free for those with Medicaid and $10 vaccinations for those without insurance or whose insurance does not cover them,” Bastrop Health Care worker Contina Boyt said. Those children who have insurance should contact their private provider for vaccination services. Parents may obtain copies of their child's immunization record from their child's physician or from a parish health unit or a Federally Qualified Health Center. To learn more about DHH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. To contact the Bastrop Health Unit, call 283.0806.