NEW ORLEANS — In just a few week the FDA is expected to approve the first vaccines for COVID-19. At that point, they'll immediately be distributed and arrive here in Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards expects the state to get the vaccine by mid-December.
"I have every expectation that sometime around the middle of December we should receive a number of doses of the Pfizer vaccine first. We don't know how many, it could be as few as 30,000, might be 60,000, we don't know for sure right now," Edwards said.
The FDA will review an application for Pfizer's vaccine on Dec. 10.
Moderna is also expected to request an emergency use application soon.
Within 24 hours of FDA approval, every state is set to get COVID-19 vaccines.
It will then be up to each state to decide how to administer them.
"I believe everybody thinks its going to be approved because the data that's been released seems to indicate the vaccine is not just effective, its extraordinarily effective," said LSU Health Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr. Fred Lopez.
The vaccines will be limited at first.
In Louisiana, Governor Edwards said health care workers will be first to receive them. Then high risk groups and residents in nursing homes or congregant living facilities will get them.
"With other companies on board and distribution occurring from companies that do receive authorization, as they ramp up their delivery and distribution we'll be seeing more and more, hopefully towards the end of the year," Dr. Lopez said.
Ochsner participated in Pfizer's vaccine trial and is now gearing up for distribution.
"We suspect that supply of vaccine won't be a great number of doses at first, so we are prioritizing our health care workers," said Ochsner Health Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention, Dr. Kathy Baumbarten. "Hopefully as production ramps up more and the government is distributing more by the Spring, Summer, we'll have more to give to at-risk patients and then eventually those that are otherwise healthy."
Sometime next year vaccines are expected to be available for anyone.
"In several months. I don’t know exactly when whether its April, May, or June, but in several months we will have enough of our population I believe vaccinated that we can start to put this in our rearview mirror," Edwards said.
Dr. Lopez explains it will be crucial for enough people to get the vaccine in order for the state to return to any sense of normalcy.
"It's nice to know the vaccines look very effective so if people take them, it should go a long way towards helping us relax restrictions, but if 50 percent or fewer people decide to get the vaccine, it's going to take a lot longer to get where we need to be," Dr. Lopez said.
Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines come in two doses, injected a few weeks apart.