BATON ROUGE--Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine hotline will go into effect next week.
"This is a smart solution, it is timely, and it comes at no additional cost," Edwards said.
The hotline will allow state residents to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations through special Louisiana Department of Health events and vaccine providers. The hotline also will connect residents with medical professionals so they can ask questions about the vaccines.
Edwards disclosed the plans for the hotline as he lifted capacity limits on bars, restaurants and casinos now that the number of virus cases has leveled off in the state. But unlike the governors in Texas and Mississippi, he kept a mask mandate in place for when people cannot socially distance to guard against the rise in cases that many other states are experiencing.
Edwards said that helping more residents get vaccinated remains the best solution. He said the hotline will address two barriers: lack of access to the Internet and "tech-savviness," or the time it takes to navigate the scheduling platforms, as well as a lack of access to medical professionals to ask specific questions.
"This is a big deal," said Gov. Edwards as he referred to the "Bring Back Louisiana" campaign and the vaccination hotline.
Difficulty in accessing vaccines due to a lack of computer access has been a problem for many poor people and some people living in rural areas.
The hotline will be staffed by workers who were trained to trace the contacts of people who were infected with the virus to warn them of their exposure.
The health department will begin training 60 call agents this week, and 10 will be specifically trained for clinical support.
The phone number and hours of operation will be made public soon.
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