Gov. John Bel Edwards provides an update on the state’s vaccine distribution plan

Gov. John Bel Edwards talked to the press Dec. 10 about Louisiana's increasing number of COVID-19 cases and its plans for mass distribution of a vaccine. (Photo by JC Canicosa)

Officials have administered 7,000 of the 39,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in Louisiana’s first batch at 71 hospitals throughout the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The top priority for vaccines will go to Louisiana’s frontline workers and nursing home residents and staff — around 210,000 people. Edwards said he won’t know what the state’s allotment of vaccines will be in the next batch until sometime next week.

“I do know there are a lot of individuals who are anxious to know when they or a loved one might be in line for a vaccination, meaning which priority group are they going to be in,” Edwards said. “I want you to know we don’t have all of that figured out yet.”

Edwards said he “strongly suspects” people who are older and with underlying health conditions will be included in the next phase.

Louisiana has 1,602 COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Thursday, Dec. 17, topping the peak of the state’s summer surge when hospitals had trouble keeping up with the people coming to their emergency rooms.

“Our hospitals are already stressed,” Edwards said.

Takeisha Davis, New Orleans East Hospital CEO, said at the governor’s press conference Thursday afternoon that LCMC Health received their first batch of vaccines Tuesday and many of the frontline workers were emotional. 

“We’ve had tears of joy, different from March and April when there were tears of despair,” she said.

The state’s current coronavirus restrictions are scheduled to end next week, but Edwards said “we’re not going to be lessening restrictions” beyond the Dec. 23 endpoint. An announcement on restrictions could come next week.