BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Following full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Ochsner Health announced a mandatory requirement that all its physicians, providers, and employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29.
“Healthcare workers have experienced unbelievable challenges and sacrificed so much over the last 18 months to keep our patients and community safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and more than that, we owe them meaningful action,” said Warner Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health. “This policy is the right thing to do to protect our employees, their families, and our patients.”
As of Tuesday Ochsner is caring for 979 COVID-19 patients, and of those more than 88% are unvaccinated. Ochsner Health leaders said they’re seeing a slight decline. Most of the decrease is in the New Orleans area.
Louisiana currently ranks 46th in the country for vaccinations, with only 39% of Louisiana residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Approximately 69% of Ochsner Health employees are vaccinated.
In the past week, Ochsner has administered over 10,000 COVID-19 tests and reports positivity rate is down at 13.8%.
Ochsner said 500,023 vaccine doses have been administered. About 100 people were vaccinated at the Saints game in New Orleans on Monday night.
One of the biggest issues Ochsner is dealing with is a staffing shortage.
Pediatric cases continue to rise, there have been 35 pediatric COVID-19 patients just in the month of August with 15 in the hospital.
Health leaders address several misconceptions circulating on the internet. They are advising the public not to take ivermectin — a drug that treats roundworms, threadworms, and other parasites in animals such as livestock.
Another misconception revolves around monoclonal antibody treatment and vaccination. Individuals who receive the treatment must wait 90 days before getting vaccinated. Meanwhile, those who have tested positive for COVID and have not received the treatment can get vaccinated once their symptoms have subsided.
Ochsner Health leaders continue to urge the public to get vaccinated. Specifically, they are also urging pregnant women to get the vaccine.
Ochsner’s official response to Pfizer vaccine FDA approval:
The Pfizer vaccine has been administered to tens of millions of people and proven to be safe and effective against serious disease and death, with few documented serious side effects. We heard from several community members who were waiting on full FDA approval to get vaccinated and are hopeful that all eligible community members get their vaccines as soon as possible. Today, Ochsner Health is caring for 967 COVID-19 patients in our hospitals across the state, and nearly 88% are unvaccinated.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has full FDA approval for individuals 16 years and older. Pfizer is also available to ages 12-15 under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). People wishing to get vaccinated can visit one of the more than 1,400 vaccination clinics in the state.
Ochsner is proud to offer vaccination opportunities across the region in clinics, shopping centers, community sites and even at Saints games. To find a vaccine location near you, please visit https://www.ochsner.org/appointment-availability.
The full media briefing is available below: