Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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LDH calls for retired medical professionals to volunteer for vaccine administration

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health is making plans for when the state's COVID-19 vaccine allocations increase enough for the general public to get in line.

"As the winter turns into spring and as more vaccine arrives, we're really going to need the assistance of former nurses and others who can administer the shots," Bob Johannessen of LDH said. 

Tuesday, LDH made public its plea to retired medical professionals to volunteer to administer vaccines in the coming months. Getting retired nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and others signed up is the latest step in preparing for a more widescale vaccination effort.

"When the time comes we can call them and activate them," Johannessen said.

As the state's rollout plan remains in the first tier of Phase 1B, doses are currently administered at hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics. Right now, those employees are tasked with putting shots in arms. 

Once the state stands up 'mega sites,' potentially at churches, entertainment, and sporting venues, that will change. The state says when large swaths of the community are able to get vaccinated, it will need all the help it can get.

"At that point, we're looking at doing strike teams to go out into community settings," Johannessen said. "We're looking at having what we call 'point of dispensing' sites, where people could come someplace to get a shot. In order for us to do that, we're going to need people who have some expertise in providing the vaccine."

Besides having enough doses to meet demand, one infectious disease expert that advised the state as it crafted its coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, says staffing will be the biggest concern.

"Human resources for doing that sort of thing is a very big rate-limiting factor," Dr. Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at the Tulane School of Public Health, said in an interview with WBRZ earlier this month. 

Hassig says volunteers will be needed for more than just administering the shot, but also for flow and observation of patients at any vaccination site. Outreach is underway to recruit medical school faculties and students to volunteer.

LDH says its effort to get retired medical workers back to work temporarily, which started late last month, has already led to 70 sign-ups.

Those eligible to volunteer include retired physicians, osteopaths, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, and physician's assistants.

To sign up, email DHHEOC03@la.gov. Those interested will need to include their preferred workdays, times, and parishes. 

Volunteers will also need to register with Louisiana Volunteers in Actions (LAVA), the Department of Health’s volunteer database.


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