Extracts from the Parish President’s Report of January 19, 2021
I have attended several conferences with state officials relative to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, I am reticent to make any statements about the vaccines for a number of reasons. The most prominent ones address the fact that the protocols are constantly changing, and the demand for the vaccines is much greater than the volume being released. Nevertheless, I offer the following data merely as guidance and with the caveat that the protocols regarding the vaccines are moving targets, and it is highly anticipated that additional changes will evolve rapidly.
At the outset, I wish to note that I am committed to providing access to Parish facilities for the mass distribution of the vaccines WHEN we get to that stage. Indeed, on Thursday afternoon, January 14, 2021, I met with our OEP Director and representatives from the La. National Guard and the La. Department of Health at one of our community centers, and we discussed the use of such Parish facilities as mass distributions points. I explained that our Parish is the benefactor of several community-based facilities, and each has easy ingress and egress points, and can accommodate both inoculation and observation sites. As plans develop, I will continue to present what I submit is a compelling case for locally and community situated points of distribution. Of course, the ability to staff these locations will be challenging.
Vaccinations commenced in Louisiana on December 14, 2020, during what is commonly referred to as the “Phase 1A Distribution Schedule”. At that time, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began to be administered to healthcare workers based upon their direct COVID-19 patient interaction. The vaccine was distributed to those healthcare workers, generally, through their employers and at their care facilities. Moreover, the vaccine was further reserved for emergency services employees and long-term care residents.
On January 4, 2021, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines expanded to include the population which fell into a category designated as the “Phase 1B, Tier 1.” In the State of Louisiana, these recipients are those identified as being 70 years of age or older, ambulatory outpatient medical, dental, and behavioral health clinic personnel, schools of allied health students, residents, and staff, end stage renal disease facility personnel, and home agency patients and personnel. The vaccine manufactured by Moderna is being utilized in this distribution phase.
We are advised that the next phase which is designated “Phase 1B, Tier 2″ should commence, at the latest, in a couple of weeks, the distribution of course being driven by supply. The persons within this category include:
- Health-related support personnel such as labs and pharmacies
- Essential governmental response personnel
- Judiciary personnel
- Department of Homeland Security personnel
- National guard and federal intelligence and security personnel
- First responders not covered in Phase 1A
- Correctional officers and jailers
- Medical transportation services
- Homeless shelters and other congregant group homes and central staff
- K-12 school and daycare personnel
- Food processing and agricultural workers
- Postal personnel
- Public transient workers
- Grocery store workers and other front line essential workers
The categories listed in this tier will also be prioritized in the coming days. Also, the population over the age of 65 years may be added and assigned a higher priority. At this juncture, I have little confidence in this listing remaining without significant change.
Phase 1C, which I understand to embrace the general population, is expected to be available beginning at some point during the late spring or early summer, at the latest.
Current Distribution, Phase 1B, Tier 1
As alluded to previously, the current population census receiving the vaccinations include the general public who is 70 years of age or older. This vaccine is currently being administered via specified pharmacies throughout the state. (approximately 210). A list of those pharmacies can be accessed at the website of the Louisiana Department of Health at: http://covidvaccine.la.gov
The supply is currently extremely limited Also, walk-ins are not accepted, and it is necessary to telephone a pharmacy to make an online appointment in advance.
In St. Martin Parish, three (3) pharmacies are currently identified as having the vaccine available for the Phase1B, Tier 1 population, specifically those 70 years of age or older. Those pharmacies are:
Super One Foods Pharmacy
924 Rees Street
Breaux Bridge, LA 705l7
Bon Ami Pharmacy
2825 Grand Point Highway
Breaux Bridge, LA 705l7
Hollier’s Family Pharmacy
1456 East Bridge Street
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
My conversations with the Louisiana Department of Health as late as Friday afternoon reflect that other pharmacies are being recruited to distribute the vaccine in St. Martin Parish.
Types of Vaccines
Pfizer and Moderna are the only two vaccines which have received approval from the FDA in the United States. Both require two (2) doses. With respect to the Pfizer vaccine, a second inoculation should occur twenty-one (21) days after the first one. As regards Moderna, the inoculations are twenty-eight (28) days apart. In order to receive the maximum benefit from these vaccines, it is essential that the two doses be administered. Only after the second dose does one get optimal immunity which is anywhere from seven (7) to ten (10) days thereafter. The efficacy rate for both is 95%.
It is my understanding that there are two (2) other manufacturers who will soon be seeking FDA approval. Those vaccines will require only one (1) dosage; however, I am unaware of any timetable as to when those manufacturers will seek FDA approval. Hopefully, it will be in the very near future, and once approved, the ability to vaccinate the general public will be substantially accelerated.
Cost of Vaccines
At this point, particularly as regards the Phase 1B, Tier 1 population, the federal government is absorbing the cost of the vaccine. However, vaccine providers may charge a slight fee for the administration of the dose. Nonetheless, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has declared that the vaccine will be administered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries, with no co-pay requirements. Additionally, some healthcare insurances have also announced that there will not be an out-of-pocket cost for policyholders.
Please note that there are reports surfacing of scammers purporting to offer COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. I posted warnings on Thursday, January 8, 2021, about those scams.
Necessity of Wearing Masks
The fact that one receives the vaccine does not mean that mask wearing will no longer be necessary. The CDC advises that it may take a “few weeks” for the body to develop immunity after a second dose of the vaccine. Consequently, the wearing of a mask is still recommended until the public reaches the point of “herd immunity” which means that the spread of the disease has been controlled.
Previous COVID-19 Patients
A question which generally surfaces is whether one who previously contracted COVID-19 should still receive a vaccination. Present medical science demonstrates that natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long. Thus, it is the current recommendation that everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine even though one may have previously tested positive for the disease.
Hopefully, the foregoing information will provide some insight relative to the status of the COVID-19 vaccines. In the future, I will attempt to post updates as the protocols associated with the vaccines are developed. As I stated at the outset, plans are rapidly evolving with respect to the receipt and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.