Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Houma Courier on the importance of vaccinating children as the school year starts:
As children head back to school, one of the most important things parents can do for them is to make sure they are caught up on their vaccines.
Louisiana law requires children entering school for the first time to get immunized against several diseases. Parents can, however, sign forms at any school that allow them to exempt their kids from shots, though state health officials consistently advise children to get immunized.
Thankfully, as The Courier and Daily Comet reported Aug. 12, only a small fraction of the more than 30,000 students attending Terrebonne and Lafourche public schools did not receive shots as the result of those exemptions.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a problem. Louisiana Healthcare Connections, a health network that serves a portion of the state's Medicaid recipients, cites data that show 30 percent of Louisiana's youngest children behind on age-appropriate vaccinations.
So much bogus information circulates on social media and the internet and by word of mouth that this, National Immunization Awareness Month, is as good a time as any to remind people why vaccines are so important.
"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 Dr. Stewart Gordon, Louisiana Healthcare Connections' chief medical officer. 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:
—Any 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 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, including painful diseases like measles, mumps and chicken pox.
—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."
American Press on measures being taken to protect the state's shoreline:
This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced an $18 million partnership between the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Cameron Parish Police Jury to add three additional miles of unique rock breakwaters to the shoreline that protects the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.
The structure will utilize large bags of lightweight aggregate to support the heavy rocks on the surface. The method has already helped protect four miles along the refuge.
CPRA Board Chairman Chip Kline said the approach keeps the rocks from sinking and provides long-term sustainability for the shoreline.
"We tested several methods of shoreline protection in areas like Rockefeller," Kline said. "Through careful analysis and experimentation, we've created this new method. The announcement today is not only about our past success, but it's also about building upon that success."
Edwards said the state had a big challenge to meet and found a way to move forward.
"Our federal, state and local partners took a big problem — coastal erosion and difficult soil conditions — and came up with an innovative solution through good science and engineering," Edwards said.
Laurie Cormier, Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority board member, said installing rocks between the shoreline and the Gulf of Mexico has already proven beneficial.
"The rocks that were pulled out sustained themselves from (hurricanes) Rita, Ike and Gustav," she said. "We know that they're resilient, and it's creating land behind it for the future."
For the announced three-mile extension, CPRA will fund $11.7 million with Cameron Parish pledging $6.3 million. Part of the project is funded through the CPRA Parish Matching Opportunities Program which matches State RESTORE dollars with Parish RESTORE dollars, bringing an additional $2 million from Cameron Parish and approximately $6.7 million from CPRA.
This partnership to extend shoreline protection in Cameron Parish is exciting and much-needed. We must continue to fight to slow down and reverse coastal erosion in Louisiana.
The Advocate on the threat of violence in public spaces:
Some years ago, in an interview with this newspaper, a Bosnian refugee mentioned the mundane pleasure of grocery shopping in Baton Rouge. After the violence she'd experienced in her war-torn homeland, it was a relief to roam the supermarket aisles here and accomplish a prosaic task — all without worry about physical harm.
We've been thinking about that in the wake of two more mass shootings over the weekend — one in Ohio, and another one at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart.
The shootings have set the country on edge, and there was a scare in Baton Rouge Aug. 6 after initial reports of shooting at a Walmart on Burbank Drive. The report turned out to be false, although authorities now say there was an altercation between two customers, with one brandishing a pair of scissors and the other pulling out a gun.
It's pretty sad when the news of a gun being drawn at a store is greeted with relief, the assumption being that things could have gone a lot worse.
In a nation once cheered by everyday lower prices, we are, it seems, becoming accustomed to everyday lower standards.