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State health experts discuss COVID-19 vaccine rollout with local officials

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 8:08 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The North Rapides Business and Intelligence Alliance met with state health officials on Monday, Jan. 25 to discuss concerns over the COVID-19 vaccine in Central Louisiana.

Dr. Courtney Phillips and Dr. James Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health says the state is only receiving around 58,000 COVID-19 vaccines per week. Both said the requests for the vaccines across Louisiana largely exceed the supply.

“I think everyone thought by this time that the numbers the state would be receiving would have increased dramatically,” Dr. Phillips said.

The Louisiana Department of Health confirms there are 1,800 locations around the state that are enrolled to give out the vaccine, but this week only around 350 of them are receiving it. They advise vaccine providers to not schedule appointments weeks in advance because of the uncertainty of how many doses each location will get per week.

“These are some things that we have asked our federal partners to try to give us as much advanced notice as possible so then we can give our partners advanced notice so they can plan in their communities. Right now, the turnaround time is extremely short,” said Dr. Phillips.

LDH says they are waiting to see President Biden’s administration plan for vaccine rollout and how that will affect the number of doses the state receives per week. Once the state starts receiving more, Louisiana intends on setting up mass vaccination sites to relieve the pharmacies that are overwhelmed with vaccine requests.

On Jan. 15, the Region 6 Office of Health made a request for 3,000 vaccines to be given out at the Rapides Parish Coliseum but were denied because of a lack of vaccines coming into the state. 2,000 of the vaccines would have been allocated to Rapides Parish alone.

District 26 State Representative Ed Larvadain III said he will continue to fight to make sure parishes in Central Louisiana are not forgotten about when vaccines are being distributed.

“New Orleans and Baton Rouge get the bulk of the vaccines because of the city size. I’m going to be working with Dr. Phillips so we can get our fair share. Alexandria is an urban area but it’s rural when it comes to the big towns. We are going to be fighting with the legislature to get our fair share,” said State Representative Larvadain III.

Dr. Phillips did say that the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for approval next month and would possibly start being distributed by March which would bring more vaccines per week to the state.

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