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All ‘essential’ workers can get vaccines, starting Monday

Starting Monday, all essential workers, including people working in food service and grocery stores, manufacturing, construction, clergy and other essential jobs will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines in Louisiana, regardless of their underlying health conditions, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday.

Newly eligible populations also include postal, transportation, judiciary and media workers, faculty and staff of institutes of higher education and more frontline government workers. This group, called Priority Group 1-B, Tier Two, covers essential workers not previously eligible.

This change applies to everyone 16 years and older. Currently in the United States, adults are eligible for three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. People who are 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and should work with their vaccine provider to ensure they are receiving that specific vaccine. All previously eligible people in Louisiana, including people 65 and older and those with certain health conditions, also remain eligible for the COVID vaccine.

“Our vaccine strategy in Louisiana has been to make sure that we were vaccinating the most high-risk individuals to protect them from getting COVID-19 and also preserve capacity in our hospitals,” Edwards said. “We’ve seen encouraging trends in our percent positivity of tests and also a drop in the number of Louisianans hospitalized with COVID. While many essential workers may already be eligible because of their underlying health conditions, beginning Monday, additional workers in key sectors will be able to get their vaccines, which is good news for tens of thousands of Louisianans who have helped keep our state running during these very trying times. This is likely the last expansion of vaccine eligibility in Louisiana before we make the shots available to everyone 16 and older, which we are targeting for some time in April.

“In some areas, it still may be challenging for workers to get an appointment, and I hope they will be patient with our vaccine providers who have worked tirelessly during this unprecedented vaccine effort,” Edwards said. “President Biden recently set a goal to open eligibility to all adults by the start of May, and I am confident, through continued commitments of doses from the federal government, that Louisiana will exceed this goal. I look forward to a day soon when all adult Louisianans are eligible for these safe and effective vaccines and we are no longer losing so many of our family members and neighbors to COVID-19.”