BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a press briefing on Thursday that Louisiana is ready to administer the first batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to frontline healthcare workers as soon as it receives Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.
The governor said that the next priority group to receive the vaccine after its approval would be nursing home residents and those living in congregant settings.
Edwards said that he had taken part in a vaccine summit at the White House and said that Louisiana was highlighted for the strength of its vaccine distribution plan by the federal government. He added that the state's vaccine plan had been in the works since last spring.
Edwards said that Louisiana is "ready to go" with it distribution plan as it pertains to Priority Group 1A, which consists of critical healthcare personnel and those living in nursing home and congregant settings.
Edwards said that he is confident that the Pfizer Messenger RNA vaccine for COVID-19 will be safe and effective and that all standard safety steps have been taken.
He said he believes the vaccine will receive the Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA as early as Thursday and that Louisiana could begin administering it to healthcare workers as early as this weekend.
He said the vaccines is ready to be shipped within hours of its approval by the CDC.
Louisiana will receive approximately 39,000 does of the vaccine in the state's first allocation followed by another 40,000 or so in the week after.
The governor said that the vaccine requires two doses to be fully effective and that while Washington will be holding on to its first half of the vaccine, Louisiana will not.
Edwards said that Louisiana will get shipments of the second dose of the vaccine about 21 days after the first doses.
The governor said that due to the small initial batch of the vaccine, the state will focus on the Priority 1A group to receive the vaccine first.
The Priority 1A group consists of nursing home residents and critical hospital personnel, which includes healthcare staff as well as those working in the hospital that could potentially be exposed such as food service workers, custodians and paramedics.
Edwards said that the Louisiana Department of Health expects the initial batches of the vaccine to go to 125-135,000 frontline healthcare personnel and 75-80,000 nursing home and long-term care facility residents and staff.
He said the amount of vaccines for the state vaccine distribution plan is based on the state's pro rata percent of 1.46%, which is based on the state's population above age 18 among the 64 jurisdictions.
Edwards said that the second COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Moderna could receive approval one week after the Pfizer vaccine. He said this is also a Messenger RNA vaccine with an efficacy rate of 95%.
He said that the Moderan vaccine does not have the same ultra cold storage requirement as the Pfizer vaccine and would go toward nursing home residents.
As of Dec. 10, LDH reported that the number of total coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana increased by 2,542 and the number of deaths had increased by 40. Of these cases, 2,139 are confirmed cases and 403 are probable cases.
The total coronavirus case count in the state on Thursday was 261,329, and the current total death count is 6,724.
As of Wednesday, 1,537 patients were hospitalized across the state (down 8 from Wednesday), 180 of those patients were on ventilators (up 3 from Wednesday). As of Dec. 9, LDH says that 223 patients are hospitalized in Region 4 - Acadiana.
Thursday's briefing comes nine months and one day after Louisiana's first reported coronavirus case on March 9.
You can watch Thursday's full press breifing below: