COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Louisiana

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

COVID-19 vaccinations began in Louisiana Monday at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson Parish.

“This is the beginning of the end [of the pandemic],” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We are not at the end yet.”

Based on federal guidelines, tier 1 hospital workers are first in line for the limited supply now available. Edwards said he expected Louisiana to get 39,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine this week and about 40,000 next week.

He said he hopes the Moderna vaccine will be available the following week. Long-term care residents and staff and emergency medical drivers are the first priority for that vaccine.

Edwards said he expects vaccines to be available to the general public in five or six months. He urged residents to be patient and continue to practice COVID-19 mitigation, including frequently washing hands, avoiding contact with people who don’t live with you, avoiding crowds, and wearing face coverings.

Dr. Robert Hart, chief medical officer at Ochsner Health, said the vaccine is safe and effective and urged people to get vaccinated when they can. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine Friday.

“The vaccine is the next step in getting this under control,” Hart said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, at least 6,511 state residents with COVID-19 have died. More than 249,000 cases have been confirmed statewide.