BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Department of Health says 324 vaccine providers across the state will receive “very limited doses” of COVID vaccine this week.
According to the latest update released early Monday afternoon by the state health department, the 324 providers include 139 chain pharmacies, 111 independent pharmacies, 59 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), 4 rural health clinics (RHCs), and an additional 11 healthcare sites across all nine public health regions and 64 parishes of the state.
There were 1,809 providers enrolled in the state’s distribution network as of Friday, according to the state’s online COVID-19 dashboard. The state has been receiving about 58,000 doses weekly for the last few weeks and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ chief public health adviser, Dr. Joe Kanter, said last week federal officials have told Louisiana to expect similar allocations for the next four to five weeks, with no significant increases.
Louisiana, like other states, continues to have more interest in the vaccine than shots available. The Associated Press reports that some hospitals and clinics have reported having to cancel immunization appointments because they didn’t have enough vaccine doses to distribute.
Edwards said Friday that the state is trying to divvy up its weekly doses from the federal government to ensure that people in every parish have fair access to vaccination. That means hospitals, clinics and pharmacies don’t necessarily receive the same amount of vaccine from the state each week.
Edwards said Louisiana is planning for mass vaccination events, but can’t do so until the number of vaccine doses heading to the state each week grows larger.
“In order to resource (mass events) with vaccine, we would literally have to stockpile vaccine over a period of time,” the governor said. “We would be holding it back in order to put it together to have a mass vaccination event. That defeats the purpose.”
LDH has published the list of participating providers of the vaccine, along with their locations and contact information, on its website at covidvaccine.la.gov. In addition, residents can call 211 to find a vaccine provider near them.
The LDH says future distribution is dependent on how much vaccine is made available to the state, among other factors.
“There is no guarantee that providers receiving vaccine this week will receive vaccine in the future,” the LDH stressed in the statement.
These vaccines are currently available only for those in Phase 1B, Tier 1, which includes the following:
- Persons ages 70 years or older in the community,
- Health-related support personnel (labs, mortuary, pharmacy),
- Outpatient clinic providers and clinic staff,
- Urgent care clinic providers and staff,
- Community care clinic providers and staff,
- Behavioral health providers and staff,
- Dialysis providers and recipients,
- Home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies),
- Dental providers and staff, and
- Students, residents, faculty and staff of allied health schools (if not already receiving vaccine or in a plan to receive from their respective schools).
The LDH also says participating providers must make available vaccine available to anyone who is eligible. Failure to do so will inform future decisions about distribution.
Eligible residents must contact a participating provider and make an appointment with them. They also emphasize that patients who arrive without an appointment will not be vaccinated and urge people not to show up at a vaccination location without an appointment. The health department also notes that it cannot make appointments for patients; only providers can.
The Louisiana Department of Health is coordinating the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort in Louisiana. As more vaccines become available from the CDC, more individuals and groups will be offered a vaccination.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to get vaccinated against COVID. We are confident that COVID-19 vaccines will be a critical tool in ultimately ending the pandemic,” said the statement released Monday.
Louisiana ranked 10th among states as of Friday for the number of doses administered per capita, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.