Louisiana receives its first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Two days before Christmas, Louisiana received an early gift: Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The state’s first shipment of the vaccine arrived Wednesday at Fresenius Kidney Care in Baton Rouge. Its frontline workers were first to receive doses.

“I’m getting the COVID vaccine not only for myself and my family, but also to educate others,” said clinic manager Laverne Scott, who has spent 11 years working for Fresenius. “We’ve had a lot of long hours, a lot of tireless days.”

“By getting them the vaccination as early as possible, we’ll help them fight off the virus and continue to give them a better opportunity to take care of our patients,” Fresenius district operator Terry Bellon said.

The Louisiana Department of Health expects to receive just under 80,000 Moderna doses and more than 28,000 more Pfizer vaccines this week alone. The state hopes to have received its 200,000th overall vaccine by the end of next week.

“I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Tuesday. “It comes in the form of vaccines, and more importantly, vaccinations.”

Many workers who have been offered vaccines have received them, but others have declined for one reason or another. LDH’s Office of Public Health has yet to tally how many people have decided against the injections — but the office’s top doctor hopes the number is low.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines boast effectiveness rates near 95%, according to pharmaceutical trials. They both require two doses given weeks apart. Mild side effects are common but often go away after a day or two.

“Every person who gets the vaccine from here on out is not only going to be a potential life saved,” LDH public health czar Dr. Joseph Kanter said Tuesday. “It’s going to be one step closer to putting this pandemic behind us.”

The state hopes to vaccinate more frontline workers — including first responders, teachers and food workers — by the end of January.

The general public won’t likely get a COVID-19 vaccine until mid-2021. The projected wait leaves health workers urging people to maintain virus mitigation measures: mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing at least six feet apart.

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