St. Tammany Parish working to close vaccination gap

St. Tammany Parish working to close vaccination gap

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - St. Tammany officials are hoping that mass vaccination events will help them close the vaccination gap. The parish’s vaccination rate is currently behind Orleans and Jefferson parishes, but the numbers are growing each day.

“I’m feeling great glad it’s over. What does it mean to you? Security, safety I won’t be as fearful,” said Kathy Berardi of Covington.

Louisiana National Guard and the state office of public health administered hundreds of vaccines at the fairgrounds on Tues., March 30.

“It’s a lot more efficient in cars. People have handicap issues or complications they’re not able to walk around,” said Capt Michael Fagan, with the Louisiana National Guard.

More than 27% of St. Tammany residents have at least received their first vaccines, behind Orleans at 34% and Jefferson at 30%.

“It feels like we’re getting it under control but I don’t want to let our guard down. Positivity rates are low, people getting vaccinated are high, but we still need to wear a mask and practice precautions. Which is what we’ve been preaching for so long,” said St Tammany parish president Mike Cooper.

Even with St. Tammany’s mass vaccination push, the parish is still considered to be at a higher risk for coronavirus. With Easter weekend coming up, leaders urge caution.

More: Doctors concerned about possibility of fourth COVID-19 surge

“We’re on the 10-yard line but if we spike the ball it’s a fumble and it could go for a touchdown the other way,” said St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston, M.D.

The parish positivity rate is much lower than it was several weeks ago, hovering at around 3%, and residents hope it stays that way.

“I’m ready, ready to hug my daughters,” said Berardi.

Though most people say they feel little pain from the shot, there is still some resistance.

“I’m gonna come back and get mine,” said Arial Culpepper of Covington.

”What are you waiting for?” we asked.

“The courage,” she said.

“It’s critical to have these mass events like this. Leaving the vaccinations on the shelf doesn’t do any good whatsoever,” said Dr. Preston.

Ochsner Health will host another mass vaccination event at the Castine Center in Mandeville on Wednesday, March 31. They expect more than 2,000 people to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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