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Pharmacies flooded with calls as state announces next phase of vaccine distribution

1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, December 31 2020 Dec 31, 2020 December 31, 2020 9:26 PM December 31, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

ZACHARY - Dry's Pharmacy will be one of the 100 pharmacies across the state to begin vaccinating additional healthcare workers and those 70 years and older, as part of Phase 1b, starting next week.

"I received a call Wednesday from the Louisiana Department of Health and was informed that we had been approved, or green-lighted, in her words, to get 100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine," John Dry said.

Dry says shortly after Gov. John Bel Edwards' announcement Thursday morning highlighting the next phase of vaccine roll-out, the pharmacy's phones began ringing off the hook, with people hoping to book an appointment.

"We currently have 18 people signed up on the list," Dry said Thursday afternoon. "We've had a large number of calls that are simply informational. They're just wanting to know, are we going to get it, what's the procedure like, that kind of thing."

Dry's was not alone with an increased call volume. At Prescriptions to Geaux, TJ Woodard says news on New Year's Eve made a typically busy day each year even busier.

"My phone lines were tied up," Woodard said. "I had patients that needed refills today that couldn't get through because we were answering calls that we didn't even know would be coming in today."

With the list of 100 pharmacies selected randomly based on parish population not public until Monday, many pharmacies, both those expecting doses next week and those that were not chosen, like Prescriptions to Geaux, took on anxious customers.

LDH issued the following statement to WBRZ Thursday as Woodard and others fielded calls:

We are encouraged so many residents are interested in getting the COVID vaccine. All pharmacies participating in this very initial rollout were not only notified - we made the expectations clear and then confirmed they were ready to take this on. We have engaged pharmacies from the beginning of our vaccine planning process. They’re critical partners in the vaccine distribution effort. We are very excited - and this is just the beginning. If individuals are calling looking for more information they can be directed to covidvaccine.la.gov where we will post the list and contact info of designated pharmacies on Monday.

Woodard says he agrees with the state's effort to distribute vaccines equitably and looks forward to eventually being added to the list of providers, but adds he felt caught off guard Thursday.

"I kind of wish we knew this was coming and had an idea of if not us, then who," Woodard said. "I mean, I'm happy to forward folks to anyone who may have the vaccine. I don't even know who to tell them to call."

For Dry, whose pharmacy specializes in immunizations, the allotment is a welcome step. He's even considering adding more staff with demand expected to be high.

"The idea that we can begin to break this cycle is very exciting," Dry said. "The idea that Dry's Pharmacy can be on the ground floor of this, in our area, is exciting."

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