Lafayette, La. (KLFY) – The Ochsner Lafayette General Hospital system will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to patients who are 70 years and older.
The first group of patients has been contacted through text, a phone call, and by email. Other groups will be contacted in the near future the hospital administration said.
Messages were sent out on Jan. 6 to over 7,500 qualifying patients at around 3 p.m. In order to be deemed a “qualifying patient,” the hospital system took a list of previous patients- not including those seen at urgent cares- who have visited the hospital system within the past 90 days.
The vaccine will be administered on a on a first-come, first-serve basis. Employees are expected to vaccinate around 3,000 people at this time until more vaccine doses are provided by the state.
The hospital system currently has 6,000 available doses for patients, however, half are set aside and will be given to patients who have already received the first dose. After the second dose the body’s immunity raises to 95 percent against the COVID-19 virus health officials say.
First doses will be given on Saturday at the Heymann Center in Lafayette. Walk-up patients will not be able to receive a vaccine. As of now, this is only open to those who have received a message and those who registered.
The hospital system plans on contacting more of their previous patient groups after the first group has been vaccinated. They say they’re planning on expanding edibility, slowly, to patients who have visited the system within 3 months, 6 months, and eventually roll back to 3 years.
However, they say they’re concerned as there may be another spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. “We’re worried about what has happened over Christmas and New Year’s. We get worried and nervous every time we pass a holiday. We generally see a surge coming from a major holiday closer to three weeks out, sometimes even four when you see the hospitalizations,” Chief Medical Officer Amanda Logue said.
The vaccination process has become a challenge because of hospitalizations Logue said. They’re using a large number of employees to provide care for the COVID-19 patients. This may slow the next steps of the vaccination process down she said.
“We have been talking about possibly changing and slowing down surgical procedures, but we haven’t had to make those changes yet,” Logue said.
The vaccine will be free of charge to the patient.