Louisiana expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 16 or older with qualifying condition

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Any Louisiana resident who is at least 16 years old and has at least one health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19 is eligible to get vaccinated against the disease, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday.

Edwards made the announcement exactly one year after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Louisiana. Sunday will be the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 death, he said.

Qualifying health conditions as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include asthma, cancer, chronic kidney or liver disease, various heart conditions, high blood pressure, obesity, Down syndrome, being a current or former smoker, sickle cell disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and dementia. The full list is available online.

People who work at facilities where many people live together, such as prisons, also are eligible. All previously eligible groups still can get vaccinated, including anyone age 65 or older.

Only the Pfizer vaccine is cleared for use in 16- and 17-year-olds. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only approved for adults.

Edwards said he made the change because demand for vaccination appointments has eased, and federal officials have promised states a stable vaccine supply. Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said he expects Louisiana to get 102,330 doses next week, which would be about the same number as this week.

“If you have just become eligible, don’t pass up the opportunity,” Kanter said.

Louisiana residents who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can schedule an appointment with one of 618 providers this week, in addition to community vaccination events being held around the state. The list of providers and events are listed at the Louisiana Department of Health’s website. Residents also can call 211 to find a nearby provider.

More than 1.2 million doses have been administered in Louisiana, and almost 449,000 state residents are fully vaccinated, according to the health department’s most-recent count.