Pharmacies overwhelmed as requests for COVID-19 vaccines exceed supply

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:22 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Louisiana began receiving the first of the limited doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine that is designated for those 70 and older and additional health care workers.

The doses were spread out among 107 different pharmacies across the state, but the demand for the vaccine is higher than the supply.

RELATED: Where to find COVID-19 vaccines at local pharmacies

Thousands of calls filled the pharmacies within the first few hours of opening to make an appointment to receive the vaccine. Don’s Pharmasave in Marksville is the only pharmacy in Avoyelles Parish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They received 100 doses for the first week but already have hundreds of callers from across the state on the waiting list

Constance Rabalais, a pharmacist at Don’s Pharmasave, said, “The calls that we’ve received have been overwhelming and we have over 200 people on our waiting list right now.”

The Louisiana Department of Health has reported that six pharmacies currently in Region VI will be receiving the vaccine. However, as soon as LDH posted that list on their website, it became overloaded with traffic as every available time slot to get the vaccine was filled.

“The problem is going to be the quantity. I don’t believe these pharmacies will have more than 100 doses. People need to understand this is the beginning and more doses will be distributed as quickly as possible,” said Dr. David Holcombe with Region VI Office of Public Health.

Most of the pharmacies did not find out they would be receiving the vaccine until Dec. 31 after Governor Edwards’ news conference. This created a quick turnaround for them in an already busy time of year.

“It’s a really tough time to be taking this on, but on the other hand, we understand the urgency that these vaccines get to the public that needs it,” Rabalais said.

For everyone that does get vaccinated, they will have to go back to the pharmacy 28 days later to receive the second dose.

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