St. Bernard Parish doubles vaccine rate in two weeks

According to the La. Dept. of Health, St. Bernard Parish has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Region One. Parish officials, believe that number is wrong.

St. Bernard Parish lags in vaccinations

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A big vaccine rollout event in St. Bernard Parish was anything but-- chairs in the Grand Ballroom at the parish’s Civic Center were empty as hardly anyone showed up for a vaccine.

“We started publicizing last week, but today’s turnout-- I’m kind of upset about it,” said Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Bernard John Rahaim. “Very limited number of people coming in. We’re having around 160 scheduled.”

While other parishes in Region One reach close to 19 percent for vaccination rates, St. Bernard Parish seems to fall behind at just over 11 percent-- the lowest rate in the region, according to the state department of health. But Rahaim said that’s not the case, especially now that the parish is receiving nearly 500 doses per week.

“The vaccines are picking up. Two or so weeks ago there was a report we were at 10 percent vaccinations,” he said. “Now we’re up at almost 21 percent so we’re moving along. We’re getting more vaccines from the state.”

More vaccines coming in so more vaccines can be administered, like at C&C Drugs in Arabi.

“We’re being offered more doses,” said Nicole Layman, lead pharmacist at C&C. “I just placed an order for Johnson and Johnson so we’re hoping to get that next week because we got a lot of people calling asking questions for that one.”

Layman said the pharmacy didn’t receive its first doses of the vaccine until the end of February. She believes the late delivery along with other factors might have lead to the low vaccination percentage rate in the parish.

“I think there’s a hesitancy and I also think um access to places is maybe an issue here too. A lot of people take the bus and things like that, so I think access to the places to get them,” she said.

As eligibility opens to more people and more vaccine is delivered, Layman said she thinks things will pick up.

But at the parish level, Rahaim said they’ll continue to give residents opportunities to receive the vaccine.

“We want to get to herd immunity as soon as possible so we can get back to some kind of normal routine,” he said.

St. Bernard Parish officials are hoping to reach residents in smaller communities across the parish that might not be able to get to the vaccine events, that includes lower St. Bernard.

Find vaccine events in St. Bernard Parish by clicking here.

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