LOUISIANA (KTAL/KMSS) – “The pandemic is over, but the virus will stay with us,” said Dr. Martha Whyte, Regional Medical Director at the Louisiana Department of Health.

During the pandemic, there was a federal response to addressing needs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention and states would handle the vaccines, and there were federal programs to distribute doses. Now, there is no longer a federal emergency.

The CDC has updated that they will no longer print vaccination cards.

“Because we’re no longer in that pandemic, all of that is shifting to the regular way that we normally order our vaccines and receive our vaccines into the states. So, CDC is kind of stepping back out of that process,” said Dr. Whyte.

Dr. Whyte says that while COVID cases and hospitalizations have plateaued in the state of Louisiana, however, the virus is here to stay as it continues to mutate.

“It’s going to be a virus that is going to come around during its season, which is most likely going to be winter, although we have seen all of our viruses kind of extend their seasons almost till they’re year-round now,” said Dr. Whyte.

She recommends that people continue to get vaccinated, especially because we may need an annual COVID-19 vaccine, like the flu.

To help people get vaccine assistance, the CDC has implemented the Bridge Access Program. Dr. Whyte recommends asking your medical provider, Walgreens, CVS, and other independent pharmacies to see if they provide the service.

“That program provides for people who don’t have insurance or are under insurance. So they may have insurance, but it doesn’t pay for vaccines. Or they have a tremendous deductible,” said Dr. Whyte.

And while you no longer need to carry your vaccination record, Louisiana residents can have access to all records through their medical provider with Links.

Alternatively, if you wish to access vaccination records. Directions to register are on the Louisiana Department of Health website.