“The vaccine is very effective,” COVID vaccination efforts continue into summer months with July 4 federal goal looming

Here’s where you can get vaccinated against COVID-19
Louisiana National Guardsmen administer COVID-19 vaccinations to the public at the Louisiana...
Louisiana National Guardsmen administer COVID-19 vaccinations to the public at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport, La., Jan. 27, 2021.(Staff Sgt. Thea James)
Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 4:49 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:11 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - As of June 2021, 140 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or just over 42% percent of the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, President Joe Biden’s goal of partially vaccinating at least 70% of adults by July 4 is quickly approaching. So the federal government is making a push to inoculate as many people as possible in the few weeks remaining.

Right now, nearly 64% of US adults age 18 or older have received at least one dose.

Biden’s “Month of Action” involves “national organizations, local government leaders, community-based and faith-based partners, businesses and employers,” among others encouraging those around them to get the shot.

Dr. John Vanchiere, who continues to spearhead LSU Health Shreveport’s community vaccination efforts, said his team is working to meet residents where they are.

“We’ve been going to churches and community centers and doing a lot more community engagement events at festivals to really make vaccine as accessible for folks as we can. Some (people) are just busy and they can’t carve out the time to do it perhaps.”

Later this week, Vanchiere’s vaccination team will visit different casinos, a grocery store and a park with hopes of reaching people who have not been vaccinated.

“We understand vaccine hesitancy, but time will help that to a large extent and more information will help that,” he acknowledged.

Across Louisiana, more than 3 million doses of the vaccine have been placed in arms, while 1.4 million Louisianans are fully vaccinated — about 32% of the state. Louisiana still has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

“The faster we can vaccinate ... the more difficult it is for these variants to emerge across the world, and we are seeing it,” Vanchiere said. “What we are seeing now is 98% of new infections are occurring in people who are not vaccinated. Vaccines work.”

Though their chances of severe illness from COVID-19 are low, Vanchiere continues to urge young people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others who are more susceptible to the virus.

“Many of them are still in that invincible phase of life and don’t have particular risk factors for bad outcomes,” Vanchiere explained. “Young adults and teenagers are really the super spreaders of this pandemic; they are more likely to spread in super spreader events than older people or younger children.”

Fortunately, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in northwest Louisiana are at very low levels, which is encouraging progress for a community with hospitals once nearing a breaking point with patients. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 41 patients are hospitalized in the region; compare that to the 374 patients in early January.

But as the country cautiously opens its doors for business once again, Vanchiere said the unpredictability of the pandemic still weighs heavy on his mind.

“We’ve seen people who are 100 years old get COVID and just laugh at it. We’ve seen a lot of people over 65 die of COVID,” he said.

“This vaccine and these mitigation strategies are important; risk will never be zero.”

Tap or click here for a list of upcoming COVID-19 vaccination events in northwest Louisiana.

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