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Lines, waiting lists and hope: New Orleans seniors seize chance for coronavirus vaccine

The Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

For nearly 10 months, senior citizens have missed church services, family gatherings and long-planned vacations in an effort to dodge a deadly virus. On Monday, many of them stood in a line that stretched from a 7th Ward pharmacy out into the street for a chance to reclaim their golden years.

Older Louisianans deluged area pharmacies with calls and visits Monday after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that a limited number of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna Inc. would be available for people 70 years and older, expanding availability beyond health care workers and people in long-term care facilities.

Amid massive demand, the select group of pharmacies receiving vaccine doses quickly resorted to waiting lists.

Some seniors at the Broad Avenue Pharmacy in New Orleans were frustrated, while others were excited that their day is coming soon.

“Yippee!” said Charles “Toto” Robinson, 72. “Finally, old age is an advantage.”

By the end of the day, Broad Avenue had nearly 250 people signed up to receive a vaccine— but only 100 shots to give. So it was that a supply chain that began with the development in East Coast labs of a cutting-edge mRNA vaccine ended in New Orleans with a yellow legal pad. Pharmacist Chi Tran directed seniors to write their names and numbers there so she can call them when doses are available. She expects to deliver her store's first shots on Tuesday morning.

Seniors arrived at the small, independent pharmacy with a mix of motivations. Vivian Buckner, 75, said the vaccine will finally allow her to go to church again. Her last time attending in person came the Sunday before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Louisiana.

“I’ve been in my house since March the 8th. No visitors. No Christmas. I just want to be safe,” she said.

Underscoring the risk: a close friend and the friend’s husband died from COVID-19 in the spring. Continue Reading


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