Over 21,000 people waiting to be vaccinated after Ochsner cancels appointments

COVID-19 Vaccine Shortage Update

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State health systems are struggling to meet COVID-19 vaccine demands across the country.

It’s a guessing game week to week for some providers, including Ochsner and LCMC, cancelling their first dose appointments.

”At my age, I’m concerned but we’ll play it by ear and see what happens,” Meryl Aguilar said. Aguilar already got her first dose from Ochsner, but is wondering if she’ll be able to get the second shot as the hospital system makes it through just through 10-percent of the 21,400 people cancelled last week.

”They didn’t give me an actual time, just a date in the portal that said on February 5 or 6 at 11:45, we will begin,” Aguilar said.

But Ochsner, as well as LCMC, want to make it clear that the cancellations are only for first doses and patients will get the second dose.

”I’m going to be honest, I was scared at first I didn’t want to get the shot, but my mind kept telling me Sandra you got to go take it because you’re up in age,” Sandra Washington said.

Washington says she’s beyond relieved to have gotten her first dose.

”I went to New Orleans East hospital and it was going straight on through, the people were nice, I never had any problem,” Washington said.

Same goes for Jimmy Bassford, who considers himself lucky getting his first dose from the VA.

”The new presidency and what not are trying to step it up, but this has been a failure, it really has, and this is the gateway out of this,” Bassford said.

Bassford thinks distribution isn’t happening quick enough.

”I don’t know where the clog up is, but we have to get it unclogged and we’ve got to get it flowing,” Bassford said.

Ochsner’s CEO, Warner Thomas, says the state health department isn’t the source of the problem.

”They’re not getting enough supply from the federal government, so I think it’s harder for the state to meet the demands that they have,” Thomas said.

Providers only find out on Fridays what shipment they’ll get on Tuesdays and lately it’s been 70-percent less.

In Lafayette, Ochsner got almost a thousand doses one week and none for this week.

That’s why system-wide they’re not taking any new appointments, only working through the wait list, first come first serve, without wasting any doses.

”As we get to the end of the day, all the doses that we think we’re going to have no show, we have the list of people that now are on this waiting list is 21,000 people that we’ve had to postpone, we just start calling them,” Thomas said.

Ochsner says if they got more vaccine, they could certainly get it out there after vaccinating 22,000 people in one weekend.

”Upwards of 30 to 40,000 if we really kind of ramped up in all of our locations, including, we’ve been looking at areas we can do drive thru and that sort of stuff,” Thomas said.

Although you can’t make an appointment, you can still register for MyOchsner online so you can make an appointment as soon as they are available.

Ochsner says they have administered 86,000 first doses and they have 61,000 second doses scheduled.

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