Louisiana will be one of 9 states where anyone can get a COVID vaccine; here are the others – NOLA.com

When Louisiana opened eligibility for the coronavirus vaccines to anyone over 16 starting Monday, March 29, it joined a small but growing number of states where anyone who wants a shot can get one.

Alaska was the first state to open to anyone over 16 on March 9, followed by Mississippi a week later. 

This week has ushered in an open season for vaccines in many other states well ahead of the May 1 deadline imposed by the Biden administration, when the president said all people over 16 will be eligible.

West Virginia opened eligibility on Monday and Utah opened on Wednesday. In Arizona, residents at certain state-run vaccination sites in some counties can also get a vaccine starting Wednesday.

Other states announced opening dates in the next week. Georgia, Texas and Indiana announced Tuesday that inoculation would be available to all authorized ages starting Thursday for Georgia residents, Monday for Texas residents and March 31 for Indiana residents. North Dakota and Ohio will make the vaccine available to anyone starting March 29.

Several other states have announced they will open in April by the following dates:

April 1: Montana

April 5: Tennessee, Michigan, Connecticut, Nevada

April 9: Missouri

April 12: Illinois

April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island

April 26: Idaho

April 27: Maryland

Mid-April: New Mexico

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But many other states still have restrictions based on age, occupation and medical conditions. In terms of age, New York recently expanded to anyone over 50 along with Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Wyoming. The age limit is 65 and up in California, Alabama, North Carolina and over a dozen other states.

In every state, people of most ages can qualify if they have certain medical conditions or jobs, though qualifications vary by state. 

In Arkansas, people with some of the medical conditions flagged by the Centers for Disease Control as high-risk can get the vaccine, but not all; smokers and people with Down syndrome are not included. In Florida, people of any age can get a vaccine with a doctor’s note.

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Louisiana has hit another milestone in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: More than 10,000 people are now suspected of dying from COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the rollout, vaccine eligibility has been a patchwork quilt, with a different plan for each state. Whether a person has been able to get vaccinated largely depends on where they live.

Louisiana, a state with high rates of comorbidities like diabetes, obesity and cancer, made nearly everyone in the state eligible after expanding on March 9 to people with a number of medical conditions, including a body-mass index over 25. That condition alone qualified nearly three-quarters of the state.

While states are opening eligibility with the hope that more people will sign up for vaccination, early expansions may be a sign that overall demand is lower in those states, said Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University.

“I think that’s an indication that the vaccination burn rate has been dropping a bit,” said Hassig.

But smaller states also have an easier time with the logistics of inoculating people and smaller elderly populations than larger states.

“With a Texas-size or California-size population, they’ve got a lot more people in those older age groups because their populations are five or ten times bigger than ours,” said Hassig.

Twenty-three percent of people in Louisiana have received at least one dose and 14% are fully vaccinated, compared to national averages of 25% vaccinations initiated and 14% fully vaccinated.

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Louisiana will be one of 9 states where anyone can get a COVID vaccine; here are the others – NOLA.com

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