People 70 and older now eligible to get coronavirus vaccine in Louisiana: What to know – NOLA.com

The coronavirus vaccine is now available in Louisiana for people 70 and older at specific pharmacies across the state, health officials said Monday.

The list of locations is expected to be released Monday. It was not available as of 7:30 a.m. from the Louisiana Department of Health. This story will be updated when the list is released.

Officials previously said the vaccine would be offered at 100 pharmacies in 52 of the state’s 64 parishes. Officials expect each pharmacy to get about 100 doses this week. Appointments are required, and walk-in patients will not be vaccinated, LDH officials said.

Who is eligible for vaccine?

Here’s who is currently eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine at the pharmacies:

  • People 70 years old and older
  • Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
  • End-stage renal disease facility personnel and patients
  • Home agency patients and personnel
  • Ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel

The priority group has about 640,000 eligible people, state officials estimated.

Vaccines are being administered elsewhere in Louisiana to health care workers at tier 1 and tier 2 hospitals, staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities and Emergency Medical Services employees and firefighters.

The first coronavirus vaccines require two shots.

Which vaccine?

Officials have approved two coronavirus vaccines for use in the U.S. – one from Pfizer and one from Moderna. They both require two shots administered a few weeks apart for long-term protection.

The Moderna vaccine will be available at the Louisiana pharmacies, according to LDH’s website.

People vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine need to get the second dose 21 days after the first dose. Those getting the Moderna vaccine need to get the second dose 28 days after the first dose.

How much will it cost?

The vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be free to the person receiving the vaccine, health officials said. However, providers may charge an administrative fee or for an office visit.

It wasn’t immediately clear if there would be a fee at the pharmacies.

Will I still need to wear a mask after I get vaccinated?

Yes, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated.

The current vaccines require two shots and the effect of vaccinations generally aren’t immediate.

People are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot. But full protection may not happen until a couple weeks after the second shot.

It’s also not yet known whether the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect people from infection entirely, or just from symptoms. That means vaccinated people might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on, although it would likely be at a much lower rate, said Deborah Fuller, a vaccine expert at the University of Washington.

How does the coronavirus vaccine work?

Unlike many vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine does not contain a dead or a weakened virus that triggers an immune response. Instead, officials said, the COVID-19 vaccine contains a genetic instruction manual that tells your immune system how to respond and protect you from exposure to the actual virus.

The technology used in the vaccines is called mRNA, or messenger RNA, health officials said. This is the first time mRNA has been used in a vaccine, but the effect is the same as other vaccines, they said.

Who is next on the priority list?

The state is currently on priority group 1-B, tier one. The next group is tier two, which has an estimated 318,750 people. 

There was no immediate timeline for vaccines for this group yet.

The group includes:

  • K-12 school and daycare personnel
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers and other deemed frontline essential workers
  • Postal personnel
  • Health-related support personnel (labs, mortuary, pharmacy)
  • Essential governmental response personnel
  • Judiciary personnel
  • Department of Homeland Security personnel, National Guard (non-COVID deployed), federal intelligence and security personnel, military personnel
  • First responders not covered in Phase 1A
  • Corrections officers and jailers
  • Medical transportation services
  • Homeless shelter and other congregate group home/center staff
  • Food processing and agricultural workers

Read more about the priority groups.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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