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Rural Health Information Hub

COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccination Efforts by the Louisiana Bureau of Emergency Medical Services

What Happened

Statewide Service Area

Prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the state of Louisiana had a pandemic response plan in place. The Louisiana Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) partnered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to set up a travel plan to vaccinate EMS personnel across rural areas of the state in three rounds. The first trip consisted of administering first doses; the second trip delivered second doses, as well as some first doses to anyone who did not receive one previously. The third trip completed the second dose for those who received their first dose on the second trip. Through this partnership with OSFM, the Bureau of EMS was successful in its vaccination efforts. In fact, the Bureau credits their success to these planning and partnership efforts. It was only by including the Bureau of EMS in the initial planning and response stages that over 20,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were able to be given.

Established collaboration networks and coordinated planning in the earliest phases of a disaster is of the utmost importance. The Bureau of EMS had, at the time, four clinical personnel. After hiring eight more contract personnel, they were able to successfully disperse the vaccine to first responders and EMS personnel across the state. They carried additional doses with each trip so they would be able to vaccinate individuals who changed their minds at the last minute. It is important to pay special attention to the capabilities of EMS practitioners in rural areas. While first responders in large urban areas throughout Louisiana had greater access to vaccines in their communities, those in rural areas may not have the same access.

Person(s) Interviewed

Susan Bailey, MSEM, NRP, Director
Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, Louisiana Department of Health

Opinions expressed are those of the interviewee(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Rural Health Information Hub.