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Teachers eligible for vaccine on Monday

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Teachers and support staff at K-12 schools and daycares will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday.

And Lincoln Parish Schools Assistant Superintendent Lisa Bastion said Northern Louisiana Medical Center is poised to order doses for the district’s school-site employees who want one as soon as eligibility officially opens up.

As of Friday there was no specific timetable for how long it would take the shipment of vaccine to arrive once ordered on Monday. A Thursday press release from Edwards’ office said delays in vaccine delivery should be expected because of the area’s week-long bout with extreme winter weather.

Since the first tier of distribution began in Louisiana, nurses at each school in the district have been compiling a list of teachers and support staff who want the voluntary vaccine.

“We’ve been ahead there,” Bastion said. “We’ve just been waiting on this tier to open. (School nurses) will do the appointment scheduling as soon as we are given the go-ahead, as well as available days and time slots.”

Thursday’s eligibility announcement opened the vaccine up to teachers and support staff who work on-site at a K-12 school or daycare, as well as all pregnant persons, non-emergency medical transportation providers and staff and residents age 55-64 with certain health conditions.

Edwards said he decided to expand eligibility to this group of roughly 475,000 Louisianans as dose allocations of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines from the federal government have begun to increase.

“Teachers, school support staff and daycare employees have played a critical role throughout this pandemic and their safety is important to our continued recovery,” he said.

“We also know that those people with certain underlying health issues are more likely to have severe or devastating outcomes from COVID, which is why we are expanding vaccine access to people ages 55 to 64 with certain health conditions as outlined by the CDC.”

While the school district waits on its shipment, Bastion said NLMC would be able to offer any extra doses from its own supply to the 17 early childhood and daycare facilities in the area that fall under the school board’s purview.

“This is a starting place for the hospital as our provider,” Bastion said.

In January, about 54% of the school dis trict’s employees had signed up to receive the vaccine once eligible.

Bastion said that number is roughly the same now, though some people have been added since then and others have been able to receive the vaccine already by virtue of their age.

Schools have just been waiting on that green light.

“We’ve heard a lot of concern that they haven’t already been vaccinated,” Bastion said. “So we’re glad the governor has opened up the tier.”

Here’s the full list of conditions that would make a Louisianan age 55-64 eligible for the vaccine starting Monday:

• Cancer • Chronic kidney disease

• COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

• Down Syndrome • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies

• Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant

• Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/ m2 or higher but < 40kg/m2)

• Severe obesity (BMIC >40kg/m2)

• Pregnancy, regardless of age

• Sickle Cell Disease

• Smoking

• Type 2 diabetes mellitus