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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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1.5 million Louisiana residents now eligible for COVID vaccine

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BATON ROUGE – A new batch of eligible recipients are among the many waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting Monday, teachers, staff and daycare workers are eligible for the shot. Those administering them, however, say the process will be more like a marathon than a sprint.

“We have it open so that anyone who signs up and is willing will be first come, first scheduled,” said Kristen Gradney, the senior director of operations with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Centers in Schools.

HCS is partnering with the East Baton Rouge School System to schedule and administer the doses. Teachers and staff had to fill out an online survey last week saying if they’re interested in getting the vaccine. At the end of the week, 1,300 were on board. There are 3,600 teachers currently employed at EBR Schools.

“That doesn’t mean the people who said they may be interested in getting the vaccine won’t convert,” Gradney said. “We expect that once people start getting it, and they see that it’s not as scary or uncertain that they thought it would be, that more people will start to get it as well.”

With the expanded priority list, 1.5 million more people are eligible to get the shot. Gradney says she’s confident OLOL can meet that demand.

The teachers are being scheduled at three different OLOL locations.

“Sometimes people can get in within the week. It really just depends on their availability. We do offer after-hour appointments and weekend appointments. So as long as we have the vaccine, it's likely we can get you in when you would like to come in,” Gradney said.

The phone calls to schedule appointments on Monday are being well received. Many teachers have been waiting for their chance to roll up their sleeves.

“We’re ready to get teachers feeling safer and vaccinated,” Gradney said. “They’ve really done an amazing job since August, being out there on the front lines.”

Other school systems sent out similar surveys last week. Sixty percent of the responses from Ascension Public Schools came back interested. And in West Baton Rouge, 55 percent of teachers and staff said they wanted the shot.

The state is expecting to get 90,000 more doses delivered this week. Some of the Pfizer doses started to arrive Friday. Moderna doses will be delivered Monday through Wednesday.

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