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All vaccinated adults in Louisiana now recommended to get COVID booster before holidays

Dr. Joseph Kanter and Dr. Jennifer Avegno hold up their vaccination cards after receiving their shots at University Medical Center in New Orleans. Dec. 15, 2020.
Bobbi-Jeanne Misick
Dr. Joseph Kanter and Dr. Jennifer Avegno hold up their vaccination cards after receiving their shots at University Medical Center in New Orleans. Dec. 15, 2020.

Louisianans 18 years and older who completed their Moderna or Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine series more than six months ago and those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago are now eligible to receive a booster shot, Louisiana Department of Health officials said Wednesday in an announcement.

LDH recommends all residents eligible for a booster shot to get the additional dose as soon as possible because of rising cases in other parts of the U.S. and to prevent coronavirus transmission at upcoming holiday gatherings.

“By working together, we have made significant progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our state, which is why as we head into the holiday season, it is critical that Louisianans get a booster shot as soon as they become eligible in order to protect themselves and their loved ones against the possibility of another surge,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Though nationally cases have been on the rise, LDH has reported less than 1,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 since Oct. 5 and fewer than 500 coronavirus hospitalizations since Oct. 12.

“While our COVID-19 trends are much better than they have been, the virus remains active statewide and that means there is still risk involved when people gather together,” State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said in the statement.

Kanter pointed out that Louisiana’s third COVID-19 surge occurred during and after the 2020 holiday season. In the third surge, case numbers rose quickly in November, climbed slower through most of December and peaked suddenly in January at levels higher than the state had seen up to that point in the pandemic.

LDH doesn’t expect booster availability alone to end COVID-19 spread in Louisiana.

“The top priority remains many more of us getting our first shot, because that is how we ultimately put this pandemic behind us,” the statement read. “The Louisiana Department of Health strongly recommends that everyone who is eligible get their first shot of the COVID vaccine if they have not done so already.”

Vaccines are available for all Louisianans over age 5. As of Monday, more than 2.2 million Louisianans are fully vaccinated. More than 342,000 Louisianans have received a booster shot or “extra dose” of a vaccine.

Children between ages five and 17 lag behind other age groups in vaccinations, with about 14.8% of that age group being fully vaccinated. Vaccines only recently became available for kids between 5 and 11 years old on Nov. 3 after federal health officials approved and recommended the jab to the age group.

“The vaccines are widely available, safe and offer the most effective protection we have against this virus,” Edwards said. “We want everyone to spend time with their family and friends and to do so as safely as possible."

Aubry is a reporter, producer and operations assistant in Baton Rouge.