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Coronavirus vaccines could arrive at local hospitals as early as Sunday

Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 3:17 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the country waits for the FDA to grant emergency approval for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, local hospitals say they are ready to begin receiving thousands of doses, as early as Sunday.

From Ochsner to University Medical Center to the LSU Health System, doctors are ready to receive thousands of coronavirus vaccines as early as this weekend.

“The FDA has to get final approval I’m being told that will be tomorrow morning, the second that happens those doses will be out the door,” said New Orleans Health Director Jennifer Avegno, MD.

Louisiana expects to get 80,000 doses before the end of the year with 9,300 going into the Ochsner Health System.

“In Louisiana, we expect to get the first doses on Monday which means they will be going into the arms of healthcare workers on Monday which is very exciting,” Dr. Avegno said.

Deep freezers have been brought into hospitals across the region including the University Medical Center, which is a teaching center for LSU Health sciences, but not everyone may want to get the vaccine.

“Likely we will not make it mandatory and I know LCMC will not make it mandatory,” said Rebekah Gee, MD, LSU Healthcare Services CEO.

So far, Dr. Gee says there has not been much pushback but she acknowledges some people may have legitimate reasons for not wanting to take the vaccine.

“How does this vaccine work in pregnant women they were not part of the trials,” Dr. Gee said.

As the city’s health director checked in on a flu shot distribution site in mid-city, which could be a model for coronavirus vaccine distribution later, she said the city hopes to have answers soon as to how the vaccine might affect pregnant women.

“We know pregnant women who contract COVID are far more likely to have bad outcomes than those who aren’t pregnant, so the urgency is there,” Dr. Avegno said.

For others, she says there are only nominal side effects and she’s confident that thousands of frontline workers could get their vaccine shots on Monday.

The city’s health director is especially concerned about a rise in coronavirus cases among children. She says cases have nearly doubled in the past three weeks and she’s encouraging children to be tested to avoid spreading to other family members

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