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At this Louisiana drugstore, there are endless calls, waitlists as staff hands out vaccines

Local pharmacies are crucial to the state's vaccination plan, but they're stretched thin

The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate


It was three in the afternoon on a Thursday in early February, and pharmacy owner Lisa Carr was getting stressed.


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards had just lowered the coronavirus vaccine eligibility age to 65. At Carr Drugs, a New Orleans pharmacy situated between a coffeehouse and an auto-parts store on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in Algiers, all five phone lines were ringing nonstop.


Between vaccine appointments, Lisa turned to her husband, pharmacist Randy Carr. She wasn’t expecting the governor's announcement that day. Pharmacies found out at the same time as everybody else, and she needed a plan to handle the calls.


“Do I need to call the sisters?” she asked, alarm creeping into her voice.


“Let’s just wait and see what happens,” her husband said.


It was time for another scramble at Carr Drugs, one of Louisiana’s independent pharmacies trying to handle the “last mile” of a complex operation to vaccinate the state’s residents and help end the pandemic.


In January, when Carr Drugs first appeared on the Louisiana Department of Health website as one of the 100 initial providers of the vaccine, the call volume crashed the pharmacy's phone lines, then their website. Continue Reading