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More pharmacies, all parishes included in next COVID vaccine distribution

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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana is expecting more than 18,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be sent to pharmacies and clinics next week, primarily to be given to people 70 and older.

The second round of distribution will include vaccination sites in all 64 of the state's parishes.

The first batch of 10,500 went to sites in 51 parishes this week. Pharmacies got about 100 doses each and were quickly overwhelmed with requests for vaccination appointments.

"Demand far exceeds supply right now," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, of the Louisiana Department of Health, said. "On the other hand, that's not a bad problem to have."

The state expects to get 55,775 vaccine doses next week. Of those, 8,800 Moderna vaccines are slated for pharmacy and clinic distribution.

Another 10,000 to 15,000 doses already in state storage will also be delivered to those sites.

Authorities said the locations that got doses this week may not get them next week.

"I think what we're going to try and do is for any pharmacy that is enrolled as a provider, which is a process, and ready and willing and wants vaccine to hand out," Kanter said, "we're going to try and accommodate them before we go back and resupply the ones that had it. I don't know yet how many it will be."

Gov. John Bel Edwards said his office wanted to ensure that every parish got some of the vaccines.

"There will be more sites," Edwards said. "I have instructed [LDH] Secretary Phillips to make sure that we are in all 64 parishes."

Edwards said some parishes will see doses go to health clinics instead of pharmacies. That list of providers will be released by Monday.

In the meantime, Kanter recommends those 70 and older stay in contact with the vaccination sites in their area to give them the best chance of identifying a site that will have vaccines.

"I think staying on the waitlist is good," Kanter said. "I think, wait until the next round of allocations is made public and then continue to try and call and make an appointment. This will get better every week. Remember, this is just the first week, just the first round allocations. There will be more and more pharmacies with vaccine, and there will be more and more hospitals that are offering vaccine to the communities."

Edwards said that the vaccine rollout cannot stop the current rise in infections, positivity rate and hospitalizations.

While more restrictions could be on the horizon when Edwards signs a new order next week, he said how well the public follows current regulations will make a difference.

"What are we gonna do? Start locking people up if they insist on not wearing a mask when they should?" Edwards asked emphatically as Wednesday's press conference wrapped up. "These social gatherings around Christmas, I mean how many police officers do we have? [Are] we gonna post somebody at everybody's home? We are not going to enforce our way of this, people. We're either gonna do the right thing or we're not. And if we don't do better we're gonna watch a lot more of our fellow Louisiana brothers and sisters die."


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