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Thousands get their first shot at Metairie 'Vax Fest'

The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose administered weeks after the first, but officials are confident they will have the supply to handle the second shots.

METAIRIE, La. — Thousands of people in Jefferson Parish started the vaccination process over a 24-hour stretch of a "Vax Fest" at the Shrine on Airline. 

The vaccination event started Monday morning with 6,500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine ready for distribution.

Also on Monday, vaccination eligibility opened to everybody 16 or older, with the Moderna vaccine still authorized only for those 18 or older. 

By Tuesday, more than 4,000 of those doses were gone, delivered to people who drove up, rolled up their sleeves and continued on. 

Tuesday morning, a steady trickle of cars passed through the site, with more arriving as recipients woke up and got out the door. 

Louisiana is one of more than a dozen states that have opened vaccinations to all adults, and the state has seen a decline in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations for weeks now as the vaccination rollout has expanded to more people. 

The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose administered weeks after the first, but officials are confident they will have the supply on hand for those who have received their first dose. 

At most locations, a second appointment is set up when you get your first shot. 

More than 1.1 million people in Louisiana have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 730,000 of them fully vaccinated according to numbers from the state released Monday. 

Officials hope that events like the Vax Fest and the fully opened eligibility will boost those numbers even more. But some health experts caution that the vaccine rush is a race against time as people become more comfortable socializing. 

National health leaders are cautioning people against becoming lax in their precautions and to continue taking steps such as wearing masks and social distancing. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected Tuesday to announce changes to his Modified Phase 3 guidelines for the state. The changes could possibly include a lifting of some or all COVID-19 restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate. 

Several states surrounding Louisiana have already taken that step, and Louisiana has seen positive signs in most coronavirus metrics. 

Even if the state does loosen restrictions, Orleans Parish will likely lag behind, as it has done throughout much of the reopening process. Mayor LaToya Cantrell has taken a cautious approach to reopening, a move that has frustrated business owners but appears to have paid dividends -- New Orleans has one of the lowest positivity rates in the state. 

Edwards is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m.

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