Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Vaccines represent one of the greatest advances in protecting people from diseases

By: Joseph Bocchini, MD

Throughout my career as a pediatrician, I have witnessed the number of vaccine preventable diseases disappear after the introduction of a vaccine. These discoveries have proven to be some of the most important public health advancements in both the 20th and 21st centuries, and have helped protect against many severe infections that cause significant illnesses and fatalities in both children and adults.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, many people fell behind on receiving their routine immunizations and now there is an increased need for both children and adults to catch up and, going forward, to vaccinate on schedule to protect our families as early as possible and prevent outbreaks.

This is important because many of the organisms responsible for vaccine preventable diseases continue to be present in our communities and being unvaccinated leaves a person susceptible to infection.

Some diseases are making a comeback

Recently, we have seen a rise in the number of measles related outbreaks among children and adults who were unvaccinated. Even more recently, there has been a reported polio case in an unvaccinated adult.

Immunizations throughout adolescence are important. Of vaccines recommended for 11–12-year-olds, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has the lowest percentage of doses administered. HPV causes almost all cervical cancers, most cancers of the genital area, and is responsible for 70% of throat cancers. Researchers expect the HPV vaccine to prevent up to 90% of the 40,000 new cancers associated with the Human Papillomavirus, which occur in the US each year.

It is important that everyone – especially parents – understand the importance of vaccines. I urge individuals of all ages to stay aware of their immunizations and continue to stay on schedule for their vaccinations.


About Dr. Joseph Bocchini – Pediatrician and Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist who has practiced medicine for more than 45 years. He currently serves as the Director of Children’s Health Services for the Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Farewell and thank you to LDH's first Executive Internship Cohort

Pictured, from left to right are, Undersecretary Ruth Johnson, interns Sarah Lehman, Matthew Foster, Jekila Dockery, Anna Crifasi, Isabel Zebrick and Joseph Patterson, and Tonya Joiner with the Office of the Secretary.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) recently said farewell and thank you to its first Executive Internship Cohort.

“What we do here is so important as it touches everyone from our children to our grandchildren to our neighbors. We hope we imparted that to you and that your experiences will continue to increase your interest in public health,” said Tonya Joiner with the Office of the Secretary.

Beginning June 6, the 11 participants each joined a different department or program office where they learned what it means to be a public servant. Throughout their time at LDH, the interns learned about the inner workings of LDH, visited the Capitol and met with different legislators.

The program ended August 12.

“You all set the bar. You were our first cohort. Thank you for the time you spent with us. We hope you will come back and work with us in the future," said  
Undersecretary Ruth Johnson.

“I don’t have the words to explain how awesome the internship was. I learned a lot and I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” said intern Anna Crifasi.

We wish our 2022 Executive Internship Cohort all the best!

Central, Northwest Offices of Public Health help children get safe start to new school year

To celebrate students returning to school, the Louisiana Department of Health's (LDH) regional Offices of Public Health (OPH) have been participating in back-to-school events to help families become prepared and protected against COVID-19. 

OPH Region 6 (Central Louisiana)

OPH Region 6 staff, representatives from Punto de Conexion and Pafford recently worked together on a backpack giveaway in Alexandria.

Region 6 partnered with Pastor Juan-Jose Romero and the recently-founded Hispanic church Punto de Conexion in Alexandria to host a backpack giveaway at the Kent Plantation House. LDH gave the first 200 school-aged children free backpacks.

Children and parents receive free school supplies and resources during a backpack giveaway at Kent Plantation House in Alexandria.

LDH team members distributed free school supplies and provided fun crafts and activities to more than 450 children. Parents received informational materials and resources from various departments including WIC and Immunizations. Pafford, OPH’s regional contracted vaccination team, administered COVID-19 and routine back-to-school vaccines.

Region 6 also participated in a back-to-school event at the Alexandria Mall, handing out informational brochures and LDH swag materials. Families received text codes for a chance to win prizes and gift cards for school shopping. OPH Region 6 nurses and immunization staff administered both routine and COVID-19 vaccines.

OPH Region 7 (Northwest)

Region 7 participated in a Back to School Bash, hosted by Essentials 4 Families Diaper Bank, at Caddo Middle Career and Technology School in Shreveport. LDH team members handed out bags filled with COVID-19 informational brochures, home test kits, COVID-19 protection kits, coloring books, LDH promotional items and other COVID-19 informational papers. The COVID-19 protection kits included a N95 mask, a tissue packet, two pairs of gloves, two disposable thermometers, a bottle of hand sanitizer and some antimicrobial towelettes.

Community Health Worker Michelle Thompson, Health Disparities Strategist Ariel Washington and Communications Coordinator Ana VanEaton, from left to right, helped attendees learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.