Answering questions about vaccine availability
Why can’t I get my vaccine?
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Following the statewide vaccination rollout on Jan. 4, residents are left with many questions regarding what to expect as the process continues, including when more vaccination locations will be made available and dose availability will increase.
For instance, why do 12 parishes not have a pharmacy participating in the rollout?
“Pharmacies had to fill out a provider application, and the provider application wasn’t terribly difficult, but it was paperwork,” Dr. David Holcombe with Region VI Office of Public Health said. “But they also need to be able to be in the Links System, in the registry system, and that’s actually a federal requirement. It’s a state requirement as well, but the federal government wants to know where those doses are going, which arms are getting vaccinated. So, some of it was because there were pharmacies who simply don’t want to participate because it’s a hassle for them, and some were just not ready.”
According to Dr. Holcombe, Region VI can expect locations offering vaccinations to double the week of Jan. 11, with Winnfield, Leesville, Jena, Pollock, Ferriday and Pineville being added to the list of COVID-19 Vaccine Pharmacy Locations on the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) website, which can be found HERE.
What about the pharmacies registered to administer the vaccinations but have extensive waiting lists?
Holcombe emphasizes the state is in a position to give double or triple the number of vaccines currently being administered. Pharmacies and federally qualified health centers put in a demand every week. However, though each location may put in a demand for 1,000 doses, for example, the availability at this time is limited to 100 doses to qualifying locations.
Vaccination doses are unknown to participating pharmacies and health centers until the service date prior to the week they are delivered. While Louisiana is allocated 298,825 doses by the federal vaccination rollout program, availability is limited, so the actual number of doses administered by the state is limited to the doses released to the state each week. Holcombe hopes that number will increase.
“They are anticipating to get through this first group, 70 and above of the general public, that will probably take 10 weeks, and that’s if we have adequate supplies,” Holcombe said. “So, maybe with the new year, new government and new everything, maybe this will get fast-tracked.”
On Jan. 4, the 107 pharmacies participating in the program each received 100 doses. While the number of participating pharmacies will increase next week, the number of doses received by each location will remain the same.
More locations are set to be added in the coming weeks, including federally qualified health centers in Grant Parish, Winn Parish and Rapides Parish.
In addition to pharmacies in the area, the Rapides Parish Coliseum, where COVID-19 testing is currently being conducted, will begin offering Moderna vaccinations at the Exhibition Hall beginning Jan. 20. To accommodate this transition, testing will relocate to the west side of the Coliseum on Jan. 11.
Holcombe indicated the limiting factor at the moment is that they have not been allocated any doses for vaccinating at this location. However, Holcombe hopes 500 or more doses will be allocated the week of Jan. 18 and will be offered to the general public falling into Phase 1B, Tier One, pending availability and authorization by the state immunization program. The site’s hours of operation will continue to be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Region IV is also working on setting up a reservation system to inform qualifying groups of availability and wait times, as well as reducing traffic on Highway 28 West.
“This is just starting, it is a tremendously complex logistical exercise, if that’s the right word,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards in Baton Rouge at his weekly press conference on Jan. 5. “And it will improve over time, much like testing improved over time in terms of having more tests available, not just more tests but tests of different types, that some were easier to administer than others and then all the testing places that came online over time. And this is going to happen with the vaccinations too, and we’re going to try and make it happen just as quickly as we possibly can.”
Stay with KALB to learn about additional doses of the vaccine.
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