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When could COVID-19 eligibility expand

Health experts are saying soon.

NEW ORLEANS — Currently more than 16% of Louisianans have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Here locally, more and more people are able to get vaccinated thanks to several mass vaccination events.

Lines can be seen almost daily at mass vaccination sites across the area. At the Convention Center, about a thousand people per day have so far rolled up their sleeves.

"Last week we operated Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday," said Allison Guste, the VP of Clinical Excellence at LCMC Health. "Each of those days we were fully booked to capacity having no extra vaccine going into this week."

In Jefferson Parish, four Ochsner vaccination drive-thru's have also successfully be held. They've given out about 2,000 doses per event.

"So on average it takes us 2.5 minutes per car, so we're able to push a really high volume through," said Dawn Pevey with Ochsner Health.

Both sites are only open to those who fit current eligibility. On some days, appointments are slow to fill, but Guste believes that's because more places are offering vaccines.

"So we've given that feedback directly to LDH on what our availability is," she said. "And we're also seeing a bit of a no-show rate with people finding vaccine at other locations. That feedback we're giving them is we do feel there is room to expand eligibility and the criteria to a population that is ready and willing to come get vaccinated now."

So when can more Louisianans get vaccinated? Dr. Joseph Kanter says in the next few days. Those who could be next would have underlying conditions beyond what's eligible now.

"What's influencing the decision of who is going to be next in line is the experience of the variants and the real emergent need to give protection to people who have conditions that place them in vulnerability," he said.

And as we wait for that announcement on vaccine eligibility, experts are urging patience. Telling people it may take time, but their turn will eventually come.