LAFOURCHE PARISH, La. — COVID-19 cases are rising along the bayou region of South Louisiana and that has health officials urging more people to get vaccinated.
In parts of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, vaccination rates are behind national and state averages. While 47% of what the Louisiana Department of Health categorizes as Region 1 (which includes New Orleans) is fully vaccinated, the region that includes Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes is only at 35%.
“I got friends of mine that said they wouldn’t get it. It’s their opinion that they don’t want it,” said William Bourgeois at a local grocery store in Thibodaux.
At Spahr’s Seafood in downtown Thibodaux, some customers who are fully vaccinated can see why there may be hesitation in getting shots.
“I do understand that they would like to see more research done and the efficacy of it, I do see that,” Shannon Trautman said.
Linette Hebert works with local people with developmental disabilities.
“We had several of our folks who had COVID. Two of them barely made it out with their lives,” Hebert said.
For their sake and her own, she got vaccinated early on. Hebert can’t understand what’s holding others back from doing the same.
“Everybody has someone they know who has had COVID and has been very ill and I really don’t understand what the concern is there, because it’s been tried and tested,” Hebert said.
Complicating the lagging vaccination campaign in Region 3 is a recent uptick in COVID hospitalizations. Health officials say a majority of the people ending up in the hospital with COVID have not been vaccinated.
“We’ve seen a tripling from about 10 patients on a daily census during our lull to an excess of 30 inpatients across the region,” Dr. William “Chip” Riggins said.
Dr. Riggins is the medical director for Region 3. Riggins says while there’s still work to be done to sequence the specific strain of the Coronavirus that may be driving up infections, he believes the more contagious Delta variant we’ve heard so much about is the source.
“It’s feeling different. We’re seeing the increase of transmissibility that we know is characteristic of the Delta variant,” Dr. Riggins said.
As we’ve heard for months, Riggins says our best protection against COVID are the vaccines. He says there are clinics and locations in the bayou region that offer free vaccination ever day of the week. Some wonder if that message hasn't gotten through yet, then when will it?
“The reality on the ground is this virus will continue to mutate and spread. There’s no end to it unless people are in agreement to get vaccinated,” Linette Hebert said.