Ochsner Lafayette General is expanding the list of people it is inviting to receive COVID-19 vaccination following a busy first weekend administering shots to non-healthcare personnel.

The local hospital system, which is part of Ochsner Health’s statewide network, announced last week it would invite 7,500 people older than 70 be vaccinated, with invitees limited to patients who had visited Ochsner clinics in the past three months. The visitation cutoff has now been extended to patients who have visited within one year, covering another 7,500 people in the state-mandated age range, according to a spokesperson. There are now about 8,000 vaccination appointments booked through Jan. 31. 

As OLG and Ochsner facilities across the state issue more invites, they are banking on the Louisiana Department of Health maintaining consistent supply to accommodate the new appointments. While state and healthcare officials are working closely together, weekly resupply remains unpredictable.

“We don’t have a good line of sight into what we might get from the state,” said Dr. Robert Hart, chief medical officer for Ochsner Health. “The state does not have a good line of sight about what they are going to get from the feds.”

Ochsner administered more than 22,000 shots across the state on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, including about 1,500 in Lafayette. The vast majority of the local shots were the first of two, spaced weeks apart, that are needed to complete the vaccination cycle. Another 1,800 doses are needed locally to accommodate Lafayette appointments through Jan. 18, and officials say they are working with the state to secure them.

The state has so far received about 230,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to federal data, and as of Jan. 7 the state said more than 80,000 had been administered. Updated figures are scheduled for release Tuesday.

As of last week, Louisiana ranked 36th in distributing its allocation of vaccine, but Ochsner officials said Monday that they had smoothed out logistical challenges and are poised to ramp up further once supply is available.

“We would be prepared to expand whatever that phase is that would come next,” said Warner Thomas, chief executive officer of Ochsner Health. “It really now is going to be dependent on can we get enough vaccine and be able to expand it to a broader group.”


Email Ben Myers at bmyers@theadvocate.com. Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.