In a statement released on Friday, January 22, Ochsner Health said that it is no longer able to schedule new appointments for the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Ochsner Health’s plotted vaccine doses decreased by 70% last week, and as a result, any appointments scheduled on or after Tuesday, January 26 were postponed until further notice.
In a press briefing on Monday, January 25, CEO of Ochsner Health Warner Thomas, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart and Infectious Disease Specialist Sandy Kemmerly provided more information regarding appointment cancelation and rescheduling, as well as the future distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re disappointed as well that we can’t give more vaccines because it certainly has been the highlight of what we’ve done for COVID-19, is actually be part of the solution. So we’re just as disappointed as everyone else,” Kemmerly said.
Thomas said that these cancellations will not impact anyone already scheduled to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but 21,400 first dose appointments were canceled. Roughly 10% of these appointments have already been rescheduled.
“Given the supply of the vaccine we’ve been getting, we’ve essentially decided to cancel all of our appointments, and we will put everybody on a waiting list. As we have vaccines available, we will schedule folks and get their first dose,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that the vaccine supply for the state has decreased by about 70% in past weeks and that the state is not receiving enough support from the federal government to keep up with the demand for vaccines.
“Once again, the state is going through their allocation process and they’ve got tremendous demand for vaccines and they are doing the best they can to meet demand issues. They’re not getting enough supply from the federal government, so I think it’s hard for the state to meet the demands they have here in Louisiana,” Thomas said.
Vaccines are ordered by Ochsner Health on Monday. On Friday, it will know the amount being sent in a shipment received weekly every Tuesday. The state received 3900 total doses last week and will receive 1950 doses this week. Hart explained that the cancellation process was not a sudden halt in vaccine distribution, but rather a result of the amount of vaccines being shipped to Louisiana drastically decreasing over multiple weeks.
“We will reschedule as we learn how many doses we’re going to get on Friday. So, we will then schedule that many people in the order in which they originally called to schedule their appointment. So, that way we continue to manage on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Hart said.
Patients and non-patients can still use the myOchsner web service to register for future COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccines will be made available through Ochsner hospitals as well as retail pharmacies under the Ochsner Health system.
For more information visit https://digital.ochsner.org/vaccineupdates/