COVID vaccine efforts ramp up; teachers among 1.5 million Louisianans now eligible for shots
BATON ROUGE - Though a recent winter storm threatened a brief delay in the delivery of COVID-1 vaccinations to Louisiana, the state is already back on track in moving forward with its vaccination process.
Officials have expanded vaccine eligibility to include teachers, pregnant women, non-emergency medical transportation providers as well as staff, and residents between the ages of 55-65 with one or more health conditions.
This means that more than 1.5 million of Louisiana's 4.6 million residents are now approved to receive the potentially life-saving COVID-19 vaccination.
Many of the state's educators are among those who are especially looking forward to being vaccinated, though it will take some time before they actually receive their first shot.
Even so, many look forward to it. Superintendent of Zachary Schools, Scott DeVillier explained why, pointing out that due to the nature of their career, a number of teachers have been forced to quarantine after being in close contact with students or colleagues who tested as COVID-positive at some point in time.
During a recent interview, he told WBRZ that he expects the vaccinations to take place as soon as doses become available.
"As long as we can get those viles to administer those vaccinations, then we have nurses that can do that," DeVillier said, "If viles are available this week then we can do so.
Many teachers who find themselves attempting to balance appreciation for their essential role as educators and concern for their own health, feel the vaccine will be a huge help in this regard.
This week, the state expects receive around 90,000 more doses of vaccines.
Federal authorities are attempting to speed up the process of getting vaccinations to every state in the U.S., with President Joe Biden aiming to see all eligible adults vaccinated by the end of the summer.
Last Friday, the president addressed this goal and the challenges that may hamper it as he toured Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan.
“It’s one thing to have the vaccine, and it’s very different to get it in someone’s arms,” Biden admitted.
Since December, more than 75 million doses of the two-shot-regimen Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed, of which 63 million have been injected, reaching 13% of Americans, according to the Associated Press.
The speed at which such vaccines are delivered is expected to soon be carried out at a swifter pace, with about 145 million doses set for delivery in the next five and a half weeks, with an additional 200 million expected by the end of May and a further 200 million by the end of July.
East Baton Rouge Parish
As local teachers find themselves among the millions who look forward to receiving a vaccination, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Centers in Schools (HCS) are partnering to organize the process by providing an online vaccine appointment portal, which is available here.
HCS schedulers will begin contacting employees to schedule their appointments on Monday, Feb. 22 and vaccinations will be administered at one of Our Lady of the Lake's three vaccine locations.
While vaccinations are not required for East Baton Rouge Parish School employees, the district says its goal is to vaccine employees who wish to be inoculated as swiftly as possible.
Other area school districts are making similar plans.
Livingston Parish Schools Superintendent Joe Murphy announced Friday (Feb. 19) that Livingston Schools anticipates receiving batches of the COVID vaccine this week; however, there is not yet any indication as to which vaccine will be made available or the quantity.
“We are preparing to administer the vaccine through an electronic sign up for our employees in anticipation of having our professional nursing staff provide the vaccinations once they arrive,” Murphy said.
He said the district is currently planning to utilize the SUMA Professional Development Center for the appointments.
Murphy said all employees have been provided information on the district’s vaccination protocol, as well as a vaccination consent form that must be completed before an appointment is scheduled.
In the meantime, he suggested teachers also consider making appointments with a pharmacy in the community and added that further information will be provided by way of the district's website at www.lpsb.org, and through the district’s social media platforms as it becomes available.
Ascension Parish Schools issued a notice to its employees on Friday, stating that the most expedient way for educators to receive the vaccine is to register with one of the vaccination sites on the Louisiana Department of Health website, https://ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine-locations/ or through Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Ascension, which provides an online waitlist at https://fmolhs.org/coronavirus/in-it-to-end-it-covid-19-vaccine. Once registered, OLOL will contact each teacher to schedule their appointment between 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., which should have minimal impacts on their workday.
Ascension Public Schools is not requiring its employees to be vaccinated but is working with providers to provide access.
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