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All Louisianans Ages 16 And Up Can Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Monday

Phoebe Jones
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot at New Orleans' mass vaccination center. March 4, 2020.

Everyone age 16 and older in Louisiana will become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, March 29, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in a press conference Wednesday.

The move comes as the state is slated to receive its largest allocation of COVID-19 doses yet next week. Louisiana will receive 148,820 first doses of vaccine, including more than 77,000 doses from Pfizer, 45,000 doses from Moderna and 26,600 from Johnson & Johnson. In addition, more than 32,000 doses have been diverted from the state’s long-term program.

“These doses put us in a really good position and certainly enable us to increase eligibility on Monday,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, state health officer, said.

Edwards said the state expected to open eligibility to all adults before the May deadline President Joe Biden set, but not so quickly.

“It’s a little bit of a surprise to get here as soon as we did,” Edwards said. “We didn’t know we would be here as soon as Monday.”

Both Edwards and Kanter expressed concern for the Louisiana Department of Health’s Region 5. Kanter said Region 5’s percent positivity rate is roughly 12 percent.

That region includes Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, hit hard by Hurricane Laura in August and still recovering. The parish’s COVID-19 test percent positivity rate rose to 13.8 percent last week from 8 percent in the previous week.

Neighboring parishes are also seeing increases in positivity rates. Compounding this increase is the growth of cases of the UK COVID-19 variant, also known as variant B117. There are more than 160 confirmed and presumed cases of B117 in Louisiana and 96 of them are in Region 5. Kanter said he believes that number is low, as the CDC data on new variants is delayed.

Kanter urged all adult residents of Region 5 to “focus the next few weeks on remaining as vigilant as possible … and now get vaccinated.”

Edwards said the state is in a “race against time” to get residents vaccinated before the B117 and other variants become widespread.

Bobbi-Jeanne Misick is the justice, race and equity reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between NPR, WWNO in New Orleans, WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama and MPB-Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson. She is also an Ida B. Wells Fellow with Type Investigations at Type Media Center.

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