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Full WBRZ Interview with White House Vaccination Coordinator, Bechara Choucair

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BATON ROUGE - Since Louisiana began administering COVID-19 vaccine doses and moved into a cautious reopening process, state leaders and citizens alike have been faced with a challenging balancing act of resuming everyday activities while taking steps to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus.  

The question of how to succeed in this balancing act comes to the fore as the delta variant causes a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Dr. Bechara Choucair, White House Vaccination Coordinator, confirmed Wednesday during an interview with WBRZ's Johnston Von Springer that infection cases appear to be on the increase. 

However, he added that vaccination rates are also on the rise. 

Choucair said, "If there was a silver lining for this fourth surge that we're seeing here is the uptick in vaccinations. You look at the vaccination rates in Louisiana for the last week or so it's almost doubled the vaccination rates across the country, which tells me more and more people are taking this delta variant more seriously."

Choucair added, "Just last week alone, we've seen almost 50,000 people in Louisiana get their first shot. So, we're encouraged by this and we want to see more and more people getting vaccinated."  

While these statistics are encouraging, a number of adults are also concerned about the vaccination status of their school-age children. 

In less than two weeks, East Baton Rouge Parish's K-12 students are scheduled to return to classrooms. It appears they're on track to make the return amid a COVID resurgence that's triggered a reassessment of where and when to wear masks, and many parents are eager for guidance on how to keep their children safe. 

Choucair said, "We know there are trials right now that are going to study the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine for kids under the age of twelve. We have to wait until we get the results of those trials. Those results will have to be shared with the FDA team, the FDA will have to review the data, and make a determination." 

When it comes to the question of when this will happen, Choucair admitted, "I don't have a crystal ball as to when this will happen. But I'm hoping this will be in the next few months." 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer children have been infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, but children can be infected with novel coronavirus, get sick from COVID-19, and they can spread the illness to others.

The CDC recommends that everyone 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Click here for more information from the CDC on children and COVID vaccinations. 

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is expected to update the public with COVID-related protocols on Monday, August 3. 

The school system's decision is likely to reflect the federal and state government's response to the resurgence.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the state's Department of Health are currently recommending that all people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks indoors when at least six feet of distancing is not physically possible during the fourth surge of COVID-19.

On a federal level, the White House urged U.S. residents to mask up indoors if they live in an area with "substantial" or "high" coronavirus transmission. 

In addition to this, President Joe Biden is expected to announce Thursday that millions of federal workers must show proof they’ve received a coronavirus vaccine or submit to regular testing and stringent social distancing, masking and travel restrictions.

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