BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Department of Health says immunization data showed children in the state entering kindergarten were more caught up on four key vaccinations compared to the rest of the country.

LDH said 96.9% of young children starting kindergarten in Louisiana were protected against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in comparison to the nationwide rate of 93.6%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Courtesy of LDH

“We’re focused on ensuring everyone has accurate information and convenient access to vaccinations,” LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips said. “Louisiana’s school entry requirements are a great tool that help us increase vaccination rates and reduce the spread of illness. Schools in Louisiana have played an important role by ensuring children are up to date on their immunizations before they attend classes.”

However, the state health department said vaccination rates for some age groups are lower in comparison to the rest of the nation. LDH said an example of this was the COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials said only 1.3% of children in the state who are five years old and under have received their first COVID-19 dose.

In Louisiana adults, LDH said 73.6% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while data shows that 90% of adults in the rest of the U.S. have gotten a dose.

“Vaccines are the safest and best way to protect yourself and your family from many infectious diseases,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “Dating back to the initial smallpox vaccine, countless lives have been saved through vaccination. Many in our community are fortunate to have not known personally the suffering caused by widespread infectious disease outbreaks of years past, now eradicated or rendered manageable by vaccines. We must all continue to make available evidence-based protection from vaccine-preventable illness to all who stand to benefit.”

For more on vaccines for children, click here.