If you were scheduled to get your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana this weekend, that's unlikely to happen — but that's OK.
With Hurricane Ida expected to make landfall Sunday as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm, most COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites in south Louisiana have shut down.
But Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state's top public health official, said that shouldn't be a problem. He urged those who have their vaccine appointments canceled to reschedule them as soon as the storm rolls through.
"It's OK to do it one week later. It's OK to do it three weeks later," Kanter said at a Friday press conference. "Just remember to do it later."
Ideally, the second shot would be given on specific date after the first is administered. For the Pfizer jab, that's 21 days after the first. For the Moderna shot, it's 28 days.
"But if that's not possible with the storm, it's OK to do it later," Kanter said. "Get that rescheduled as soon as possible. It still is beneficial to you."
There were 2,275,150 vaccine series initiated as of Thursday, Aug. 26. Of that number, 367,567 are waiting for their second shot. It's unclear how many residents were scheduled to get their shots this weekend.
Hurricane Ida is crashing into Louisiana as the state grapples with another deadly disaster: the coronavirus pandemic.
The state just emerged from one of it's deadliest weeks on record, with 347 COVID-19 fatalities over the seven day period ending Friday. A month ago, the state averaged 84 coronavirus deaths a week.
Last week's death toll included an infant and a 14-year-old high school freshman.
To stay safe, Kanter encouraged the public to limit close contacts to family members as much as possible, but said if that's not possible, to wear masks and social distance.
“There’s a lot of COVID out there. There’s a lot of risk out there,” Kanter said, adding that the risk of transmission is as high now than it has been at any time prior to the start of the fourth surge in July.
There were 2,684 COVID-19 patients in Louisiana’s hospitals as of Friday, around 300 fewer patients than a week ago.
"We are thankful that our COVID numbers have softened just a little bit over the past week in this really unprecedented fourth surge," Kanter said. "We were at a place a week ago where the hospitals could just not take anymore."
Kanter said to avoid going to the emergency room during the storm unless its absolutely needed.
"If you’re sick, by all means go to the emergency room, but if your condition doesn’t warrant the emergency department please avoid it throughout the storm, because we’re trying our best to preserve their capacity for what they have on their hands now and anything else they might have to deal with," Kanter said.