Effective today Louisiana will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, lowering the minimum age from 70 to 65 and adding all first responders, not just those providing healthcare and vaccinations.
When vaccines first became publicly available in December, they were limited only to Louisianans 70 and older, due to that group’s increased vulnerability to complications from the disease, and to healthcare professionals, due to their increased chances of exposure. Increased availability of vaccine made it possible to widen eligibility, Edwards said at a press conference last week.
Dr. Mike Hill, an infectious disease specialist at St. Tammany Health System says the quickest and safest way to defeat the pandemic is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Dr. Hill added that both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine – each of which requires two doses – have proven to be both safe and effective in combating the virus.
The expansion of vaccine eligibility comes at a crucial time, as COVID infections appear to be leveling off in Louisiana following a holiday season spike that stressed hospitals statewide. It also comes just as health officials warn against mass gatherings on Mardi Gras, which is Feb. 16 this year, and which could create another surge of infections.