Area hospitals want to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, but the supply allocated is holding them back

Ochsner forced to cancel coronavirus vaccine appointments after low supply

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Ochsner says they’ve had to cancel appointments for people getting their first dose because of the lack of supply from the federal government.

The feds deliver vaccines to the state, who then allocates the vaccine doses to certain health care providers like Ochsner and others they have chosen.

“Given the supply of vaccine that we’re getting, we’ve decided to essentially cancel all our appointments,” said Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner Health.

Ochsner’s website says , “Due to the limited vaccine supply, we are no longer able to schedule new appointments for the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, first dose scheduled appointments are impacted as a result.”

“Our cancellations last week impacted 21,400 people. It’s about a 70% decline in the vaccine supply from where we are today, versus where we were several weeks ago,” said Thomas.

“The second doses (COVID-19 vaccine) so far have come in a different shipment, and we’ve gotten those doses so far,” said Dr. Robert Hart, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Ochsner Health.

The Louisiana Department of Health says despite an increase in demand, they expect the doses allocated from the federal government to remain flat for the coming weeks. “We expect it to be around the 58,150 (doses) that we’ve received the last couple weeks.”

According to CDC data, Louisiana is 14th in the nation, in terms of doses administered per 100,000 people.

“It’s clear that current demand outstrips the supply made available to the state,” said a spokesperson with the Louisiana Department of Health.

“Essentially we’re doing what we can just as the state is doing what they can in regard to vaccine supply. If we were notified that we could receive 20,000 vaccines next week, we’re positioned to administer 20,000 vaccines next week as a health system,” said Dr. Jimmy Craven, President of Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group.

Dr. Craven says right their supply is okay at their three locations in Baton Rouge, North Baton Rouge and Gonzales. While OLOL is still making new appointments for vaccines, they’re waiting for more supply to really increase vaccinations throughout the area.

“And we’re looking at a larger site here in the local community, that we hopefully will be announcing this week. The answer for us to get out of this pandemic is to administer as many vaccines as possible. So in our current sites, we will be limited by space, and we obviously are looking for a larger site that could be a high-capacity option for our community and the patients we serve,” said Dr. Craven.

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