Virus Outbreak Louisiana Vaccine

Corinne Mack (right), an emergency room technician, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by nurse Meshoca Williams at Ochsner Hospital on O'Neal Lane on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

(The Center Square) – The Louisiana Department of Health released a list Monday of more than 200 pharmacies and clinics offering the COVID-19 vaccine this week, almost double the number of locations available last week.

Supplies are limited and vaccinations are by appointment only. Residents who are at least 70 years old are eligible to get vaccinated.

Other eligible groups include people who work at health care clinics and dental offices, dialysis patients and providers and students and staff of allied health schools.

Hospital workers were first in line Dec. 14 after the federal government sent the state its first allocation of 39,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. Nursing home residents and staff began getting vaccinated the following week.  

In setting its priorities for vaccine distribution, state officials mostly have followed federal guidelines. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday he set the initial age cutoff at 70, rather than the federal recommendation of 74, because the former represented a “clear demarcation” among Louisiana residents for a higher risk of serious complications or death caused by COVID-19.  

State officials expected to get 55,775 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, but only 8,800 doses will be available to members of the general public who are age 70 or older. About 485,000 Louisiana residents are at least 70 years old.

By the end of the week, officials expect to have received a total of 293,525 doses, 93,000 of which will have been diverted to long-term care facilities.

Edwards said the state will use the National Guard to host “mass vaccination” events when the federal government makes enough doses available. He said the distribution process will be refined as it moves along.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.