BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Thousands of people received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Saturday in the largest mass vaccination event in Louisiana.
The drive-thru event was held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Brookshire Grocery Arena in south Bossier City, where 4,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were made available for the event.
The vaccine is the third one approved for use in the United States, and the only one that requires only one inoculation. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, two and three weeks apart respectively.
As he watched the long lines of vehicles winding through the north parking lot toward the tents set up with more than 100 volunteers to aid in the mass vaccinations, Jason LaFitte, director of Pharmacies at Ochsner LSU Shreveport said, “I really think that this type of model the mass vaccination model is the way to go.”
“You could immunize 12 people at a time here,” Lafitte added. He said the organization of the event made it run smoothly, even with only a few days of planning. He said it was a really well thought-out workflow and logistical process that worked, and got everyone through it in a timely fashion.”
Dr. John Vanchiere, director of vaccine testing and outreach for LSU Health Shreveport’s Center for Emerging Viral Threats, was an enthusiastic supporter of the event and the J&J vaccine, which only was approved by the Federal Drug Administration on Feb. 27.
“One of the advantages of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that you get one dose and you get very good protection and it also has fewer side effects than the other vaccines,” Vanchiere said, “
The vaccine was available to anyone 65 or older, health care workers, daycare workers, K-12 support staff and those ages 55-64 with qualifying medical conditions.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, as of Thursday, more than 78,000 vaccine series shots have been administered in Northwest Louisiana, representing 8.77% of the region’s population.
But still, even with vaccinations going on steadily throughout the state, Vanchiere stressed people should not let their guard down. “We know what the right thing to do is in Louisiana,” he said, adding everyone should continue to wear masks, “because the germ is still winning the battle.”