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‘Saving lives every day:’ Louisiana tops 1M vaccine shots


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, talks with Debbie Ford, MSN, RN, center, chief nursing officer with Ochsner Medical Center, as she gets ready to receive the first coronavirus vaccine from Dr. Mona Moghareh, left, on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Jefferson, La. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana reached a coronavirus vaccine milestone Monday, with more than 1 million shots administered at pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other sites across the state in the 11 weeks since immunizations began.

The latest data from the state health department shows more than 657,000 people — or 14% of the state’s population — have received at least their first dose of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been available. More than 368,000 people have gotten both required doses.

“We still have work to do, but this milestone marks a big step in putting this pandemic behind us. These vaccines are saving lives every day and bringing us closer to normalcy,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a post on Twitter, celebrating the benchmark.

The Democratic governor, who is scheduled to receive his second vaccine dose Tuesday, has credited the vaccine with helping to shrink the number of people hospitalized with the COVID-19 disease. Hospitalizations fell to 629 patients Monday after topping 2,000 in January.

More than 1.6 million of Louisiana’s 4.6 million residents currently have access to the coronavirus vaccine, under the eligibility rules set by Edwards.

The first doses in Louisiana were administered at Ochsner Health’s Jefferson Parish medical center on Dec. 14. Louisiana ranked 29th among states Monday in the number of vaccine doses administered per capita, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after falling behind in its distribution because of a week of icy, snowy weather that disrupted vaccine delivery.

Louisiana is getting its largest shipment of vaccine doses to date this week, as federal officials roll out a third coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which only requires one dose. The state expects to receive about 135,000 vaccine doses this week: 37,900 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on top of 97,000 doses of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

“We are hopeful over the coming weeks and months that this third vaccine will help ease supply constraints and bring America and Louisiana one step closer to ending this pandemic,” Dr. Joe Kanter, state health officer and Edwards’ chief public health adviser, said in a statement.


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