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)
Starting Monday, any Louisianian 16 years or older can get vaccinated against COVID-9, without regard to their health status. Gov. John Bel Edwards paired that Wednesday announcement with the news that Louisiana is slated to receive its largest shipment of vaccine doses yet.
Sixteen-year olds and 17-year-olds who are vaccinated will receive the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for that age group.
In explaining the expanded eligibility, Edward said, Louisiana will be administering 148,000 vaccine doses next week. The dosages planned for next week is equivalent to 14 percent of the vaccinations initiated in Louisiana. “The vaccination effort really is expanding in a robust fashion. Since the beginning of the vaccine process, our weekly allocations from the federal government have more than doubled. And that is what we feel confident that we’re ready for this next step.”
Joe Kanter, the state’s chief health officer, described the state’s efforts to inoculate as many residents as possible as “a race against time.”
The more infectious UK variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Kanter, quoting figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said two weeks ago, the UK variant made up about 3.5 percent of Louisiana’s COVID-19 cases, but, he said, “without question that number… is higher right now.”
He said the UK variant is even more prevalent in Texas and Florida. “We’re at risk of getting there if we don’t continue to mask and distance.”
“A shot sitting on the shelf or in a freezer is not doing anything to help us end the pandemic,” Edwards said.
Edwards said 413 Louisianans are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 while the statewide COVID-19 percent positivity is at 2.8 percent, a significant decrease relative to the state’s 13.5 percent positivity rate in January.
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