SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Health is hoping to expand the number of people able to be vaccinated for the coronavirus through newly issued guidance.
The state’s health department is now encouraging hospitals across the state with extra doses of the vaccine to vaccinate Louisianans currently eligible.
“We will continue to work with our hospital partners to make the COVID vaccine increasingly available for their eligible patients and community members,” wrote Dr. Courtney Phillips, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, in an official statement. “We do anticipate vaccine will become increasingly available in the coming weeks and months, and as it does we will continue to bring additional vaccination sites online.”
The updated guidance includes those who fall under group ‘1B, Tier 1,’ which began accessing the vaccine on Monday, an estimated 640 thousand individuals. This group includes those who are 70 years and older.
KSLA News 12 reached out to hospital systems across Northwest Louisiana to find out how they plan to adhere to the guidance:
- Willis-Knighton encourages existing patients who are eligible to contact their Willis-Knighton primary care physician to be added to a roster of those requesting a vaccine
- Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport reports existing patients will be directly notified with information on how to schedule a vaccine
- CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier stated the hospital does not have extra doses of the vaccine presently
Dr. Martha Whyte, region 7 medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health, emphasizes those eligible to be vaccinated should not show up unannounced at a hospital or pharmacy expecting to receive a dose of the vaccine.
“Please call anywhere before you go, do not show up anywhere because they’re not going to give it [vaccine] to you that way,” Dr. Whyte said. “They need appointments because they don’t want lines.”
Whyte expressed compassion for residents who are eligible to be vaccinated but are having issues scheduling an appointment due to an overwhelming influx of interest. The public health leader for Northwest Louisiana is asking residents to be patient during this fluid period of time.
“The good news is the vaccine is coming, it is going to come to you,” Whyte added. “We’re going to do everything we can to try and get it out as soon as we get it.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Louisiana added 4,454 new coronavirus cases and 50 deaths. Nearly 2,000 patients are hospitalized across the state, one of the highest spikes since the pandemic began.