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Region 6 ranks towards the bottom in the state for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Out of the nine regions in Louisiana, Region 6 ranks second to last for the percent of the population that has received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Louisiana, vaccine distribution is based on the populations in each region. So, the higher the population, the more vaccines that region will get. Dr. David Holcombe, with the Region 6 Office of Public Health, says that Central Louisiana ranks eighth in the regional population.

District 27 State Representative Mike Johnson sent a letter to Dr. Courtney Phillips, the Secretary of LDH, expressing the concerns over the lack of vaccines coming to Region 6. In the letter, State Rep. Johnson writes, “We are disturbed by the recent report on the percent of vaccines available to the various regions.”

State Rep. Johnson says he is working with others on the state level to make sure Region 6 is not being forgotten about.

“I’ve sponsored legislation to create a Central Louisiana caucus because I think we can speak with a stronger voice to get attention to Central Louisiana whereas, in the past, it has gone to places like Acadiana, New Orleans or Shreveport,” said State Rep. Johnson.

Region 1 features the New Orleans area, and their percentage of the population that has received the vaccine is at 7.38%, which is the highest in the state. Region 6 is one of two regions in Louisiana where that percentage is under four. The only area below the 3.95% in Central Louisiana is the Lake Charles area in Region 5, where some of the population has not returned following the damages that Hurricanes Laura and Delta caused last year

“It’s like a ghost town in certain areas there so I don’t even consider Region 5 a good comparison. In my mind Region 6 is last. The fact that we are even close to that percentage is a bad thing because we should’ve had more vaccines,” said State Rep. Johnson.

Dr. Holcombe says the state is sending most of the vaccines to the areas with larger health care centers.

“There has been a preference for larger hospital systems and neither Region 5 nor Region 6 has an Ochsner system, which has received a lot of vaccines,” said Dr. Holcombe.

Louisiana has been receiving around 58,000 COVID-19 vaccines per week, and this week, Central Louisiana got 3,700 vaccines to allocate to the hospitals, pharmacies and public health office in the region.

State Rep. Johnson said he has received assurance from Dr. Phillips that vaccine availability in Region 6 will increase over the next few weeks.

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