Gov. Edwards discusses state’s vaccine plan at White House

Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:14 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The federal Health and Human Services secretary praised Louisiana’s vaccine distribution plan as one of the nation’s premiere strategies at a White House vaccine summit Tuesday, Dec. 8.

“These four governors put together some of the best vaccine distribution plans, serving as real models for the country,” secretary Alex Azar said, making reference to Gov. John Bel Edwards, as well as governors from Texas, Tennessee, and Florida.

Edwards joined the panel discussion to explain how the state will prioritize vaccinations. His comments largely mirrored a draft version of the state’s vaccine playbook obtained by WAFB.

“It’s not anything new,” Edwards said. “It’s just at a scale we don’t typically have to do it at.”

Some 40,000 Louisianans will be vaccinated in December. The state will exhaust its initial allotment of doses in just 48 hours, Edwards said.

Health care workers who come into direct contact with infected patients will receive first doses, along with nursing home staff. In the event of a shortage or limited supply, hospitals with the most COVID-19 patients and nursing homes in parishes with high positivity rates will receive vaccine doses first.

Once those front line workers, including support staff that are exposed to the virus, are vaccinated, the state will distribute doses to other essential workers. Next in line are other health care workers, congregate care staff, ambulance drivers, jailers, nursing home residents, state leaders on the Unified Command Group, law enforcement officers, bus drivers, pharmacists, food processors, and people over 65 with serious illnesses.

It could be months before teachers and grocery store workers are vaccinated. The president and Edwards each expect anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the spring.

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