Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the state will extend eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to another 275,000 Louisianans starting Monday, widening the pool to include anyone 65 years of age or older.
Edwards also extended eligibility to members of the state’s unified command group, election workers, and all state and local first responders and law enforcement officers. Previously, only first responders involved in vaccine distribution or health care services qualified for the shots.
As a member of the unified command group, Edwards himself will qualify for the vaccine. He said he is excited to receive his first dose of the vaccine next week.
After this expansion, nearly a quarter of the state’s population will be eligible for vaccination — a grand total 1.1 million people.
The announcement comes as Louisiana prepares for its largest weekly allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses to date. The state is in line to receive more than 100,00 doses through a variety of channels in the coming week.
About 67,000 of those doses will come from the state’s weekly allocation from Pfizer and Moderna. This week’s total represents a 16 percent increase over previous weeks.
The federal government is also allowing the state to “claw back” 15,600 doses from the lagging federal program to administer vaccines in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
For more than a month, the program redirected tens of thousands of doses of Louisiana’s weekly allocations to CVS and Walgreens, who partnered with the federal government to administer those doses in long-term care facilities. Last week, state officials reported that less than one-third of the 93,000 doses the state contributed to the program had made it into the arms of nursing home residents and staff.
And as announced earlier this week, the federal government will ship an additional 14,000 doses directly to 56 Walmart locations across the state as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
According to the state department of health, 404,007 Louisianans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday. Of those, 130,000 have received their full two-dose vaccine series. Louisiana ranks 15th in the number of vaccine doses administered per capita, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.