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Massive COVID-19 vaccine gets dry run in Louisiana parking lot | National / World

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New York — The COVID-19 vaccine can take months after reaching millions of Americans. Getting all those shots in your arms would be a tremendous task. Shreveport, Louisiana is currently preparing.

The city recently completed one of about 12 test runs across the state. Health officials there organized the community’s first drive-through influenza vaccination clinic in a large parking lot at a trade fair in Louisiana.

For the largest vaccination event ever hosted by the local health department, drivers rolled windows, rolled up their sleeves and pulled them into tents. A cheerful and hard-working nurse attacked them with a vaccine. Within about five minutes, people left the parking lot on the way and passed a line of food stalls selling corn dogs, roasted nuts, and lemonade.

In the near future, that’s how authorities want to go for the COVID-19 vaccine. A poor state with a share of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, Louisiana is on the verge of a challenge. The State Department of Health will operate test clinics in each of the nine public health areas by using this winter’s influenza vaccination as a practice and eventually distributing millions of COVID-19 vaccines. Was decided at an early stage.

“Unlike testing, we have four to five months to plan,” said Frank Welch, a doctor who is the director of immunization in Louisiana.

Still, there is pressure. The worst pandemic that devastates the country in the first century goes out of control, and hospitals fill the country as winter approaches. Fortunately, Pfizer, BioNTech SE, and Modena formulations have shown surprising results in early test results, with initial shipments probably just a few weeks away.

But even in the best timely vaccine approval scenarios, state governments will struggle to control the rampaging virus. And they must do so in the chaotic transfer of presidential power and the lack of clear policy guidance. What makes the problem even more difficult is that many Americans are not confident in the safety of the vaccine. According to a September survey by the Pew Research Center, if the COVID-19 vaccine is available, only about half of adults will be vaccinated.

Louisiana has an ambitious plan to vaccinate nearly 5 million inhabitants. Initial doses are probably limited to a small number of healthcare professionals. Louisiana has a high proportion of infectious diseases and deaths in its population. About 212,000 people became ill with the new coronavirus and more than 6,200 died.

Shreveport is democratic and the surrounding cado parish voted for Joe Biden in the presidential election. Mayor Adrian Perkins calls it the most conservative Democratic parish in the state. Wearing masks and social distance are not selling well. Today, as it is everywhere in the United States, the new coronavirus has overturned life and everyday life.

The state trade fair venue is right next to Interstate 49, which runs primarily along the west side of the city, which is the black area. Nationally, black Americans suffer disproportionately. According to the CDC, cases of new coronavirus are 2.6 times higher among black Americans and 2.1 times higher than whites.

According to Perkins, like most southern cities, Shreveport is divided into two different sections, and the interstate highway is the proverbial “truck” that separates them. There are signs of financial difficulty in the west. Some homes have their paint peeled off, while others have become planked and are about to collapse into the ruins.

The more prosperous downtown is also struggling. Shreveport’s economy, like the economy of so many communities in the United States, depends on defeating the virus. The downtown streets are quiet these days. The workers are at home. The theater remains closed. Open restaurant and cafe signs require people to wear masks.

Casinos, the region’s largest employer, are trying to survive. One is already permanently closed. In Sam’s Town, plexiglass separates slot machines, many of which are turned off for social distance. El Dorado next door finishes the table game early, allowing workers to clean their poker chips at the end of the night. Guests wear masks except when drinking drinks and dragging cigarettes. The restaurant is experiencing similar distortions to stay open and retain customers.

The flu vaccine clinic at the trade fair will help show what the state is against. The car flows in more slowly than the local public health director, Martha White, wants. The day began with 1,500 vaccinations, but only 400 people appeared to get the flu vaccine. White, a doctor, still considers the day a success. “I wish there were more people,” she said.

Perhaps she speculated, most people were already vaccinated against the flu: it was November and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Ensuring the fair distribution of vaccines is a priority of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Perkins and White agree that the trade fair venue provides a good place to reach the most vulnerable population, even if many cannot drive on their own. The trade fair venue runs along the bus route, so you can easily take walk-up shots.

More aggressive outreach is also planned. Placing a group of health workers in a homeless shelter, food bank, prison, or elsewhere. Two years ago, the state used such a “strike team” to start vaccination of people at risk during the outbreak of hepatitis A. Currently used for influenza vaccination. The strike team could also go to the homes of people who can’t go to clinics, pharmacies and other medical facilities, Welch said.

Clinics and strike teams only work if people agree to take a shot. Community Health Director White is worried that not enough people take the pandemic seriously. She uses her personal experience to educate suspicious people. Her husband used a ventilator for two months and almost died before receiving convalescent plasma from the first coronavirus patient in the area. Still, she has been loosely attacked on social media and was once compared to Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union.

(Editor: The story ends here)

“People aren’t happy with the restrictions, and they’re not happy with the quarantine or the need for quarantine, so sometimes we have to tell people what we don’t want to hear,” White said. “All I can do is tell them what the virus is, what it does, and what it needs to do accordingly.”

At the drive-through clinic, as the days go by, there are fewer cars, more intervals, and health nurses can sit in grass chairs and chat, or carry an umbrella to protect themselves from the hot, unseasonable sunshine. It was.

Nurse Dawn Leone’s family gathered on Sunday to worship together when someone brought the virus home. Her husband, mother and father were all hospitalized with COVID-19. In total, nine relatives, including Leone, were positive. Her mother and husband have recovered. Her father has died.

“Maybe it’s old news and we’re working on something else, but it’s a real struggle for the family,” Leone said.


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