Low vaccination rate: Local health leaders urging community to get vaccinated, especially in rural parishes

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Our local hospitals are now at capacity. As the fourth COVID-19 surge continues to spread, local health professionals are pleading with the community to get vaccinated.

“We have went through a phase where we did not see any positive COVIDS or have any COVID tests, and about two to three weeks ago, these patients started coming back in and we’re seeing a lot of positive COVID tests,” said Robin Brodnaxm, East Grant Community Health Center Family Nurse Practitioner.

Here at home, the vaccination rate is looking grim. Rapides Parish is sitting at 28-percent fully vaccinated, 29-percent in Avoyelles and only 22-percent in Grant.

At the East Grant Community Health Center, this week alone, multiple people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“So since Monday, we’ve had approximately 25 to 30 cases,” said Brodnax.

The increase in COVID patients is flooding waiting areas at the health center and keeping staff busy at all hours of the day.

“We’ve worked short-staffed through this and that means all hands on deck,” said Brodnax.

That’s because nurses treating these patients are getting sick and working extremely long hours.

“It is overwhelming because we’ve had nurses out sick and so we’ve worked short-staffed through this,” said Brodnax.

Brodnax, who’s vaccinated herself, is doing everything she can to protect her patients, and explain the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“When they come in and we’re discussing the vaccine, we recommend it. We do this by informing the patient the data shows that it is a safe vaccine,” said Brodnax.

The family nurse practitioner understands her patients may be hesitant or even scared.

“Like my patients, we’ve had concerns too, it is a new vaccine, and it’s being as honest and accurate with the information we provide them as possible,” Brodnax.

Only 25 percent of Brodnax’s patients are vaccinated, a decision she says many regret not making.

“We have had patients that come through that are ill and they say that they wish they were vaccinated, they wish they would’ve made that decision sooner,” said Brodnax.

Some are even referred to the hospital for treatment.

“I have had patients say well when it is FDA approved, I will have the injection. Unfortunately though, I think that waiting could cause more of a problem.”

But the good news is that more people are making the decision to get vaccinated here in our state. Dr. David Holcombe, the Region Six Office of Public Health Director, says they ran out of vaccine doses and had to order more earlier this week.

“We have picked up tremendously so we went from doing two or three tests a day to doing 120. We went from doing 3 or 4 vaccines a day to doing 60 or 80,” said Dr. David Holcombe.

A trend Holcombe hopes will continue so no one else has to bury another loved one to this deadly virus.

“I see family members say, oh if mother had only gotten her vaccine. Oh if only my hard-headed son had only gotten his vaccine, because they’re being touched personally with this and people are getting sick.”

Dr. Holcombe

The office of public health is giving out all three vaccines every day from 8:30 until 3:30 p.m..

The East Grant Community Health Center is now offering an antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients. For more information, you can call the clinic at 318-310-2510.

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