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What role will COVID-19 vaccines play during hurricane evacuations

If you're getting a kit together, officials are reminding you to include hand sanitizer and PPE. However, there's another thing they're encourage everyone do.

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — With hurricane season underway, now is the time to get a hurricane plan in place. 

Destructive, frustrating, exhausting. However you want to describe the 2020 hurricane season, we can all agree it was one to remember.

"It never ended, we kicked it off in June and we were still in cones every month until we wrapped up in October there with Zeta's passing," said Benjamin Schott, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Slidell.

Now, whether we like it or not, a new season has started and projections aren't ideal.

"A lot of the forecasts look like last year," Schott said. "So, that doesn't give anyone warm fuzzy feelings going into the season."

This is the second hurricane season to happen in the midst of the pandemic, but the first with vaccines available. So, what roll will that play if evacuations are ever ordered?

"We're working closely with GOHSEP with the unified sheltering plan," said Joseph Valiente with the Jefferson Parish Emergency Management.

Valiente says conversations are happening now specifically about that, but says if people need help evacuating, that it could look a bit more like it did pre-pandemic.

"Currently, if it stays at this level with COVID response, we'll go to congregate sheltering," he said. "Which means the old fashion way. We'll put quite a few people in an enclosed area."

So one thing he says people should do to prepare: Get vaccinated.

"We can't stress that enough, because if you evacuate you may have to go 300-400 miles, you don't know what COVID situation in that area will be," he said.

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The forecasts show 13 to 20 hurricanes this season, but officials say it just takes one. So keep your guard up, and be ready for whatever may come our way.

Temperature checks will be taken for those evacuating and if found to have a fever will isolate until being tested. PPE will also be made available as well, but authorities encourage people to remember their own PPE and hand sanitizer in their personal hurricane kits.