Louisiana will make many more people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday

People with cancer, obesity and high blood pressure will qualify

Ochsner vaccine
Debbie Ford, Chief Nursing Officer at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, was the first Ochsner Health employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at 9:07 a.m. on Monday, December 14, 2020. (Photo provided by Ochsner Health)

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to greatly expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines in Louisiana Tuesday, adding people with more than 20 health conditions and those who work in jails and prisons to the list of those eligible to receive them.

Health care providers who didn’t want to be named shared an expanded list of eligibility on Louisiana Department of Health letterhead with the Illuminator. An official in the Edwards administration then confirmed the governor intended to expand access to the vaccine to these groups Tuesday.

In addition to opening up vaccine eligibility to people with more health conditions, Louisiana will also allow people who work in large group living situations — in jails, prisons, group homes, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation centers and elsewhere — to get the vaccine starting Tuesday.

All vaccines will be accessible Tuesday to people over 18 years old — or 16 years old if receiving the Pfizer vaccine — who have the following conditions: 

*Asthma (moderate-to-severe)*Cancer
*Cerebrovascular (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
*Chronic kidney disease
*COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
*Cystic fibrosis
*Heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
*Hypertension or high blood pressure
*Immunocompromised state from a solid organ transplant
*Immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV or use of other immune weakening medicines
*Overweight or obesity (BMI over 25)
*Severe neurologic conditions, such as dementia
*Sickle Cell disease
*Smoking
*Type 1 diabetes mellitus
*Type 2 diabetes mellitus
*Chronic liver disease
*Pulmonary fibrosis

*Thalassemia
*Down syndrome

Edwards has instituted a fairly narrow set of criteria for vaccine distribution up until this week, in an effort to ensure that people who are elderly have an opportunity to get vaccinated first. In Louisiana, over 68 percent of the people who have died from COVID-19 have been over 70 years of age, and 50 percent have been over over 76 years of age.

But this past week, health care providers reported having hundreds of extra vaccine shots at some large vaccination sites in New Orleans. The lower demand for the vaccine — coupled with an expected surge in supply — likely contributed to the governor’s decision to greatly expand eligibility moving forward.