Gov. Edwards, LDH Highlight One Year of COVID-19 Vaccine Progress

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

BATON ROUGE — More than 2.29 million Louisianans – nearly 50 percent of the state’s population – became fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first year of vaccinations. In addition, Louisiana has seen a decrease in the number of people hospitalized with COVID and in the percent of COVID tests that are positive. Today, the vast majority of COVID hospitalizations, cases and deaths are in those who have not yet been vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccinations began on December 14, 2020, and since that day more than 4.7 million doses have been administered in Louisiana alone. More than 2.5 million Louisianans have at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 544,000 booster doses have been administered. According to the CDC, nearly 25 percent of Louisiana’s eligible population has received a booster dose.

In addition to a nearly eight-fold decrease in COVID hospitalizations today when compared to a year ago, the percent of COVID tests that were positive in Louisiana was nearly 10 percent a year ago, which signals out-of-control community spread. Today, the state’s percent positivity is 2.3 percent, which signals a much lower risk level across Louisiana.

“One year ago, I was proud and hopeful as I witnessed Nurse Deborah Ford receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose in the state of Louisiana. Since that day, I am proud to see that more than 2.29 million Louisianans have gone sleeves up and are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Just one year ago today, we had 1,527 people hospitalized with COVID. Today, thanks to the vaccine, that number is below 200,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “That is not to say the past year has not been without tragedy and loss. We’ve seen more than 500,000 COVID infections in Louisiana in the last year, and we’ve lost at least 8,052 Louisianans in that time alone, especially when the very strong Delta variant tore through our state, killing thousands. As has been true since the start of the pandemic, the vast majority of people who have died or become critically ill from COVID were not vaccinated – either because the vaccine was not available in the early months of the pandemic or they simply had not taken it yet.  Fortunately, the vaccines are here and widely available now, and the importance of taking the vaccines along with the boosters when eligible simply cannot be stressed enough, especially now that the Omicron variant is here. They are our best and most effective path of protection for ourselves, loved ones and community.

“The vaccines are safe and effective and, in Louisiana, they’ve only resulted in a handful of severe adverse reactions and zero deaths. We have worked hard with public health officials, the Louisiana National Guard, medical professionals, local leaders and community groups to make these free, safe and effective vaccines accessible all across the Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “The COVID-19 vaccination effort has been a marvel of modern science and medicine unseen in any of our lifetimes. It is my fervent hope and prayer that all those who are not yet vaccinated will pause and take the time to speak with their doctor or a medical professional about this life-saving vaccine so that we do not have to say goodbye to any more of our Louisiana brothers and sisters.”

“Receiving my COVID-19 vaccine alongside my colleagues was a moment that I will always remember,” said Debbie Ford, Chief Nursing Officer at Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans and Louisiana’s first vaccine recipient. “Vaccines deliver protection and they also delivered hope to those of us fighting the pandemic. The vaccine allowed me to visit my grandchildren, go to Saints games and meet with other nursing leaders from across the country. Our fight isn’t over but with a safe and effective vaccine and booster shots, we remain optimistic and hopeful for a healthy and safe future for all.”

“Making the COVID-19 vaccine available and accessible to everyone in our state has been our number one priority from the very beginning, and I am happy to say we have made critical strides,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. “Today more than 2.5 million people have gone sleeves up for the vaccine. These gains are a direct result of intentional, close collaboration with community partners, including our valued healthcare providers, local leaders, pharmacies and countless community stakeholders. They also reflect the Louisiana Department of Health’s ongoing commitment to ensure safe and equitable administration of the vaccine for all Louisianans.”

“It is too difficult to fathom just how much more loss we would have suffered in Louisiana without the COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines are highly safe and effective, and have undoubtedly saved countless lives already. As we prepare to gather with family and friends this holiday season, one of the best gifts that we can offer our loved ones is that of protection. We urge everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine and the booster as soon as possible,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.  

HOW TO GET A COVID VACCINE IN LOUISIANA

Everyone aged 5 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana. The FDA has only authorized one of the three COVID-19 vaccines – from Pfizer – for children ages 5 to 17. Parents should confirm with the vaccine provider that their child is under 18 to ensure Pfizer vaccine is available before making an appointment.

  • COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at more than 1,000 locations in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including at pharmacies, hospitals, health care clinics, and doctor’s offices.
  • For a list of locations, visit LDH’s vaccine directory or visit vaccines.gov, which is maintained by the federal government.
  • To get a list of vaccine locations near you text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.
  • If you have questions, would like to speak with a medical professional, or need help scheduling an appointment, call 211 or Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.