N.O. Health Department Provides Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Preparations
NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans provided an update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans and expectations for residents in priority groups.
The City said a vaccine could be ready for distribution as early as December 2020 for priority groups and as early as Spring or Summer 2021 for the general public.
“Research has shown that vaccines will be more effective in communities where COVID-19 transmission is already low,” said New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “I hope that can be a motivator for all New Orleanians. For months, our residents have worked hard to keep the virus suppressed. There is now light at the end of the tunnel and we just need to get through this last stretch.”
The City said phased priority groups will be determined by the CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices, which is a non-governmental group of medical and public health experts. This week, the ACIP voted to approve the first of three priority groups to include healthcare providers and long-term care facility residents (such as nursing home residents). People who fall into these categories will be eligible to receive vaccines through their employers or care facilities.
Secondary priority groups are expected to include first responders, essential personnel, seniors, and people with existing medical conditions. Residents in these secondary groups should expect more information in the next few months. Widespread vaccine availability for the general public is not expected to be ready until the Spring or Summer of 2021.
The New Orleans Health Department said it has been working closely with federal, state and local partners to plan for vaccine distribution once it is ready. In New Orleans, vaccines will be distributed through multiple channels, including pharmacies, doctor’s offices, places of employment, and community-based sites, such as walk-up and drive-thru locations.
In preparation for an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the NOHD said it has been using flu shot events to test various models of vaccine distribution. The next free flu shot event will be Friday, Dec. 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at First Grace Methodist Church, 3401 Canal St. NOHD recommends that everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot.
The NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps is actively seeking medical and non-medical volunteers to assist in these efforts. For more information and to sign up to volunteer, visit ready.nola.gov/volunteer.
For more information about vaccine preparations and frequently asked questions, visit ready.nola.gov/vaccine.