Rural parishes struggling to keep up with administering coronavirus vaccines

A look at the first COVID-19 vaccines, which arrived at Ochsner Medical Center - Jefferson...
A look at the first COVID-19 vaccines, which arrived at Ochsner Medical Center - Jefferson Highway in New Orleans on the morning of Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.(Ochsner Health)
Updated: Jan. 7, 2021 at 6:55 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rural parishes in Louisiana are struggling to keep up with the vaccine demands.

For example, Pointe Coupee Parish only has one pharmacy giving out the shots. They had to stop putting names on their waiting list because they are not sure when or how much their next vaccine shipment will be.

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All of this is leading to a huge demand on the pharmacy staff.

“Our pharmacy partners have been incredibly busy trying to take care of not on just administering vaccines, but also just handling the daily needs of our customers filling prescriptions,” said Charlotte Weller, health services manager for Brookshire Grocery Company.

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Brookshire said that they are hoping to get doses as soon as possible, right now they are simply asking customers to be patient.

The vaccine distribution rollout to the elderly population has been bumpy across the state, but it’s been especially hard on rural parishes like Pointe Coupee, where just one pharmacy is administering the vaccine.

Joseph Cotten is 73-years-old, and like many others is patiently waiting for his vaccine.

“She says here, fill out your name, birthday and your phone number, and we’ll call you in about three or four week,” says Cotten.

He says he heard the wait list at Brookshire Pharmacy inside Super One grocery store is around 500 people. That is why the pharmacy is no longer taking names for the wait list, at least not until the next shipment comes in.

“It is a little upsetting, but if you don’t have the vaccine and don’t know when you are going to get it; it’s no use just taking on people until they can get rid of the people that they have in it,” adds Cotten.

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The Brookshire Pharmacy says their staff is working around the clock to administer vaccines, but it all comes down to when and how much the state gives them each week.

Charlotte Weller who is the health services manager for Brookshire Grocery Company says, “This morning we actually did find out that 10 of our stores are receiving 100 doses of vaccine tomorrow, but we just don’t know from week to week what it’s going to be.”

We further asked if the Pointe Coupee pharmacy would be included this in, Weller responded, “They are not.”

So, what about the older folks in the parish who can no longer drive? Pointe Coupee’s Council on Aging is stepping up to help with transportation though their services may be limited.

“As soon as they find out their scheduled appointment, call us at that moment because with COVID we are only getting four or so people in the vehicle which means we are limited with space in the vehicles,” says Becky Bergeron who is the executive director of Pointe Coupee’s Council on Aging.

For now, it’s a waiting period, but for some of our smaller parishes the wait looks longer. Residents tell us they hope the next shipment of doses will be larger.

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