Health officials urge patience as La residents seek COVID vaccinations
BATON ROUGE — This week (Jan. 4), Louisiana pharmacies begin rolling out vaccinations to individuals aged 70 and older and most residents feel the vaccination expansion couldn't have occurred soon enough.
According to the Associated Press, even before this week began, the Louisiana Department of Health said Friday it has received multiple reports of people who meet the new, expanded criteria showing up at pharmacies, overwhelming pharmacies’ phone lines and even calling some hospitals trying to get vaccinated days before doses are available.
But even as vaccinations are administered to these Phase 1B Tier 1 recipients, not everyone eligible will be able to receive the shot. The reason for this is that the state does not have enough doses yet.
Health department spokeswoman Aly Neel explained that only a limited supply of 10,000 Moderna vaccine doses will be available for those newly eligible individuals. This is why only certain pharmacies will be administering those doses and appointments are required to receive the shot or the person will be turned away.
“Let me stress — you must make an appointment in advance to get vaccinated. You will not get the vaccine if you just show up. It is critical that these pharmacies are able to plan so as to not waste precious vaccine doses, and of course we do not want lines forming during a pandemic,” Neel said in a statement Friday.
Still, news of wider availability was drawing intense interest, which Neel described as a promising sign even as the health department tried to tamp down expectations for those newly eligible, The AP reports.
About 100 pharmacies in 52 parishes are poised to administer the Moderna vaccines to those newly eligible groups, with each pharmacy getting around 100 doses in the first week. The Department of Health will announce the pharmacies Monday at covidvaccine.la.gov, so people can begin trying to make appointments then.
Edwards’ office said beginning Monday, Jan. 4, about 640,000 people will be eligible for the shot, a number that exceeds the amount of doses currently available. For this reason, the governor has urged patience.
During the end of 2020, as Louisiana received its initial vaccine doses, the state prioritized hospital employees, EMS workers, firefighters and people who live and work at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The vaccine is likely to become more widely available for the general population in late spring/summer 2021.
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