BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — One year ago, the COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out in Louisiana for the first time. After frontline workers got the first jab, the state has come a long way in the pandemic.
It was a glimmer of hope for some when the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Louisiana hospitals.
“It was just really exciting to see those first doses come in and see people access what we really saw then as the end of the pandemic or the way out and the way through,” said Kimberly Hood, Asst. Secretary of the Office of Public Health.
Frontline workers who had been battling the virus in the ICUs finally had an extra layer of protection.
“The brunt of this pandemic has fallen on our healthcare workers. Not just physicians, but physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, people who are checking people in, people having to turn family members away from being in the hospital,” Hood said.
Quickly the state began to roll out the vaccine for older residents and then on to everyone, which now even includes children. The state was looking good headed into the summer this year until the Delta variant took advantage of the low vaccination rates.
“A combination of nuances led to lower vaccination rates including lots of misinformation and also the fact that the Delta variant started affecting people that were already vaccinated,” said Aldo Russo, Regional Medical Director of Ochsner Baton Rouge.
The major surge stretched the hospitals to the limit and brought a major wave of more people wanting the jab. Now Louisiana has much lower numbers and more hospital beds to go around. But misinformation and a new variant are posing a new risk.
“There’s billions of people already vaccinated and we know how the vaccine works, we know how effective and safe it is,” Russo said.
With safe and effective vaccines doctors are hopeful it means the world will never have to go back to how it was early in the pandemic.
“The number one thing we can do is we can all be vaccine ambassadors. If you’ve had the vaccination and you’ve had a really good response please have that conversation with your family members,” Hood said.
As of Wednesday, 4.7 million doses of the vaccine have been given in Louisiana, meaning nearly half the population is fully vaccinated. There have been over 770,000 confirmed cases of COVID and 14,912 COVID deaths.