COVID-19 Vaccine

Get the latest information from Ochsner LSU Health on what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Latest Update on COVID-19 Vaccine: March 25, 2021

Anyone age 18 years or older is now eligible for all COVID-19 vaccines and anyone who 16 years or older is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in Louisiana.

Scheduling is available for new first dose appointments at select locations on a first come, first serve basis. MyChart users can check availability and schedule their vaccinations via MyChart. If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can sign up at my.ochsner.org/lsu or call 318-626-0050 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m for available appointment locations and times. Once available vaccine slots are filled, you will no longer be able to see the option to book.

As eager as we are to vaccinate as many patients as possible, you must have a scheduled appointment to receive a vaccine.

We appreciate your willingness to be part of the solution as we work together to end this pandemic. Please continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, maintain good hand hygiene and avoid gathering with individuals outside of your household.

Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines are ongoing.

Community Vaccination Events

Get the latest schedule of vaccine events happening near you.

Find a vaccine event near me


Answers to your Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccine Phase 1B Questions

  • Effective Monday, March 29, anyone age 18 years or older is now eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and anyone who 16 years or older is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in Louisiana.
  • We are scheduling new first dose appointments at select locations on a first come, first serve basis for those who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • MyChart users can schedule their vaccinations via MyChart or by calling 318-626-0050. You can also see which Ochsner regions across the state have vaccine appointments at Ochsner.org/appointment-availability.
  • Patients receiving Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will schedule their first dose via MyChart or by calling. Your second dose is guaranteed. Ochsner LSU Health will notify you of the exact date and time of your second dose appointment via text and email within 24 hours of when your first dose is administered.
  • If you have never been to an Ochsner LSU Health location before and do not have a MyChart account, we encourage you to enroll at my.ochsner.org/lsu. This is a secure portal that allows patients to view test results, message their providers and schedule appointments at the click of a button.
  • Once available vaccine slots are filled on MyChart, you will no longer be able to see the option to book.
  • Those who are eligible will be required to attest that they meet the criteria and may be asked to provide proof. A full list of the criteria can be found at covidvaccine.la.gov.
  • More times and dates will become available as we receive more vaccine each week. We encourage you to continue to check MyChart and Ochsner.org/appointment-availability as more appointments become available and appreciate your patience during this process.
  • As eager as we are to vaccinate as many patients as possible, you must have a scheduled appointment to receive the vaccine.
  • We appreciate your willingness to be part of the solution to end this pandemic.
  • Due to the complex storage and limited time constraints with the COVID-19 vaccine, we want to ensure we are efficiently utilizing doses avoiding any waste.
  • Because of this constraint, those who meet the eligible criteria must have a scheduled appointment at the designated location to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A full list of the criteria can be found at covidvaccine.la.gov.
  • As eager as we are to vaccinate as many patients as possible, we are unable to accept walk-ins at this time.
  • We are committed to upholding the state’s tiered structure and are hopeful that the vaccine will be available to more members of the public soon.
  • We encourage community members and patients to sign up for our vaccine update emails at Ochsner.org/covidvaccine or visit covidvaccine.la.gov for the latest information and resources.
  • Please visit the Louisiana Department of Health website at covidvaccine.la.gov for a full list of eligible criteria.
  • We look forward, under the guidance of the CDC, state and LDH, to the day when we can offer the COVID-19 vaccine to all members of our community.
  • Anyone age 18 years or older is now eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and anyone who 16 years or older is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in Louisiana.
  • We are scheduling new first dose appointments and also encourage you to check your state’s department of health website for vaccine availability and locations.
  • Effective Tuesday, March 9, the Louisiana COVID-19 vaccine eligibility criteria now includes people ages 18 and older who have certain health conditions that may result in a higher risk of disease.
    • You must be 18 or older (16 if you are receiving the Pfizer vaccine) AND have one of these CDC-listed medical conditions or qualify under the workforce category.
    • The qualifying underlying medical conditions are:
      • Cancer
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
      • Down syndrome
      • Heart conditions including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
      • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
      • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/m2 or higher)
      • Sickle cell disease
      • Current or former smoker
      • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
      • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
      • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
      • Cystic fibrosis
      • Hypertension or high blood pressure
      • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
      • Chronic liver disease
      • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
      • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
      • Severe neurologic conditions such as dementia
      • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
      • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
    • We are scheduling new first dose appointments at select locations on a first come, first served basis for those who meet the eligibility criteria.
    • MyChart users can schedule their vaccinations via MyChart or by calling 318-626-0050.
    • Once available vaccine slots are filled, you will no longer be able to see the option to book on MyChart.
    • Those who are eligible will be required to attest that they meet the criteria and may be asked to provide proof. In addition, during registration, signature will be required on the state form for criteria confirmation.
    • We encourage you to visit the Louisiana Department of Health website at covidvaccine.la.gov for eligibility criteria and available vaccine locations across the state.

More times and dates will become available as we receive more vaccine. We encourage you to continue to check MyChart for more appointments, and we appreciate your patience during this process

  • Patients who have received their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna are GUARANTEED their second dose regardless of date and should keep their vaccine appointments.
  • If you are receiving a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, your second dose appointment will automatically be scheduled once you have received your first dose. It will be scheduled at the correct interval of time from your first dose: 19 – 23 days for Pfizer, or 26 - 30 days for Moderna, from your first dose.
  • Ochsner LSU Health will notify you of the exact date and time of your second dose appointment via text and email within 24 hours of when your first dose is administered.
  • All second dose appointments will be administered at the same location as first dose appointments.
  • As with any appointment type, you can call our contact center at 1-844-888-2772 to verify the date and time of your second dose appointment.
  • We ask that patients keep their second dose appointments as they are scheduled, but we understand that sometimes appointment times no longer work. If you must change your second dose appointment, please call 1-844-888-2772.

Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization and Distribution Questions

  • Vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after rigorous and extensive development in laboratories, as well as pre-clinical animal studies and testing on human volunteers, to ensure they are safe and effective.
  • Monitoring of the vaccine and how it’s produced, including regular facility inspections, must continue for as long as the manufacturer holds a license for the vaccine.
  • Additionally, the drug sponsor follows a multi-layered approval process, which includes an investigational new drug application, clinical trials and presentation of data to a special FDA advisory committee.
  • Additionally, the drug sponsor follows a multi-layered approval process, which includes an investigational new drug application, clinical trials and presentation of data to a special FDA advisory committee.
  • During a public health emergency, an EUA authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make a product available to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases.
  • The FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have assured the public that no safety or efficacy evaluation steps would be skipped in approving the vaccine.
  • An emergency authorization functions like a temporary approval for the duration of the emergency or until the FDA grants approval. To win full FDA approval for a New Drug Application, the pharmaceutical sponsor will have to submit additional research to fully define the drug's safety and benefit for patients.
  • The state of Louisiana is in charge of allocating the vaccines, so we do not know how many we will receive at this time. We are in close contact with the state, and we are operationally prepared to support as many doses as we receive.
  • You do not need to take a COVID-19 test prior to receiving the vaccine. If you are COVID-19 positive, then it is recommended that you follow the CDC guidelines and isolate for 10 days to limit exposure to others. Once you are out of isolation, you are able to receive the vaccine.
  • There will be no direct cost to employees or patients at this time.
  • No, the current vaccine trials will continue for the intended duration which for most trials is 24 months.
  • Additionally, we will see more trials for new vaccines and new targeted populations and these new potential trials will need research participants.
  • With more than 7 billion people in the world, more trials are needed to help vaccinate the entire world.

Vaccine Safety, Effectiveness and Side Effects

  • The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccines are two shots – one shot followed by a booster either 21 or 28 days depending on the vaccine. Each uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, which gives cells instructions to create a protein like the SAR-CoV2 protein. Once the protein is created, it triggers the immune response leading to the production of antibodies.
  • The Janssen vaccine uses one shot. It utilizes the adenoviruses which are the same viruses that can cause the common cold. These inactivated/non-infective adenoviruses can be used to deliver DNA, which are instructions for proteins. For the COVID-19 vaccine, researchers swap in a gene from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) so that the modified cold virus makes the SARS-CoV2 protein, stimulating production of antibodies and additional immune responses to fight off the virus. The process creates an immune memory, which ultimately teaches the body to both recognize and attack the virus.
  • Following guidelines from the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA), no one is excluded from receiving the vaccine as there are no medical contraindications except for a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine or any of its components.
  • Because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, MyChart or the COVID hotline will automatically schedule the second dose at the same location with the appropriate length of time (21 or 28 days depending on which vaccine you receive) between visits. You must be able to attend the second appointment in order to schedule the first.
  • Most commonly used in clinical trials, vaccine efficacy is a percentage measured by calculating the risk of disease among vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
  • For example, vaccine efficacy of 90% means a 90% reduction from the number of cases you would expect if they have not been vaccinated.
  • Vaccine effectiveness is different and shows the ability of vaccine to prevent outcomes of interest in the “real world.
  • Each trial sponsor needs to review to see if any such potential process and amendment to the original protocol (where participants stay blinded for the 24-month duration of the study) would be subject to the input of the regulatory authorities.
  • If you are currently a participant in one of the Ochsner vaccine trials, please contact your study staff for more information.
  • No COVID-19 vaccine trial has been canceled. Two trials were paused which is normal for all clinical trials to take a closer look at symptoms participants develop to see if there are possible side effects. Sometimes the symptoms have nothing to do with the actual product. This process is in place to ensure that any product brought to the public is as safe as possible. Both trials that were paused were resumed once an independent safety monitoring board deemed the side effects not related to the vaccine.
  • Ochsner Health fully supports and highly encourages widespread vaccination under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for all employees and our patients. Large scale vaccination of our community is the best way to keep everyone safe and to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Since this is a novel virus, we are still unsure how long the vaccine antibodies will last. We are closely monitoring the research as more data becomes available.
  • Like the flu shot, the vaccine is administered into a large muscle in the upper arm. As is the case with any vaccine, allergic reactions may occur. Some may experience mild fever, soreness, muscle aches, headaches, chills, fatigue/tiredness, muscle or joint pain, redness and/or swelling at the site of administration. These are signs of an immune response to the vaccine and expected in some patients.
  • Based on data reported from the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA), possible side effects have been more prominent after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
  • If you have pain or discomfort, you can take your normal pain reliever or talk to your pharmacist about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot, you can apply a clean, cool compress over the area. To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids.
  • While extreme serious reactions to the vaccine are rare, you should seek medical care if:
    • you experience a severe allergic reaction call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room
    • the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
    • your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
  • Ochsner On Call can answer questions at 800-231-5257 or 504-842-3155
  • If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
  • Report side effects to FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Reporting instructions are included in Fact Sheet you received when you got your vaccine.
  • We recommend that people continue their routine medications as prescribed by their physician which may include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Patients who have one of the CDC-listed underlying medical conditions and are prescribed NSAID by their physicians, are not excluded and are encouraged to receive the vaccine
  • It is generally recommended to avoid scheduling “routine” immunizations 14 days before or after your scheduled COVID-19 vaccination. If other vaccines are administered, there is no need to alter the COVID-19 immunization schedule or repeat any of the immunizations.
  • The vaccine cannot cause you to test positive via nasal swab or saliva test. This is not a live vaccine and will not cause you to shed virus.
  • Some patients may still become infected or develop symptoms following vaccination against COVID-19. However, the current vaccines under consideration all have greater than 90% efficacy of preventing you from getting infected. They also have demonstrated that your risk of a severe infection that requires you to be hospitalized is greatly reduced following immunization.
  • That is the intent. Instead of traditional vaccines, which may use the virus itself, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine will use a protein on the outside of the virus. This means the vaccine can’t cause COVID-19 in a person, because it’s not using the virus that causes the disease.
  • This stimulates your body’s immune system to mount a response as if it were a true infection, minimizing your risk of infection or disease burden should you encounter the same virus later. The current vaccine candidates have been demonstrated to be over 90% effective in preventing you from developing symptomatic infection from COVID-19.
  • However, in order to stop this pandemic, we need to use every tool available which includes the immunization, social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.
  • No, there are no restrictions after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, but you should continue to wear your mask, social distance and practice good hand hygiene.
  • Yes. Remember, it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots may not protect you until at least a week after your second shot.
  • It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.
  • Until we reach herd immunity and the majority of the United States has been vaccinated, we will need to continue to practice social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. These are the best ways to reduce your chance of being exposed to or spreading the virus until we end this pandemic.
  • Yes. There is not enough information currently available to say how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. In order to stop this pandemic, we need to use every tool available which includes the immunization, social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.
  • No deferral is necessary for whole blood or platelet donors who received non-replicating, inactivated or RNA-based vaccines or the mRNA Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
  • No. The FDA does not feel that it would be acceptable for these individuals to donate CCP. This is because it is not known yet if the CCP would be efficacious from a vaccinated person.

Different Types of Vaccines Questions

  • It is not uncommon to have multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers produce and distribute a vaccine against the same preventable disease. In fact, numerous vaccines, such as those for influenza and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) are well-known and common vaccines who use several different manufacturers for vaccine development and distribution.
  • The series and dosing for each vaccine is based on the initial results from the clinical trial data. Just because some vaccines may have one shot vs two, doesn’t mean that one is less effective than the other.
  • To best maximize the efficacy of the vaccine and to ensure an optimal effectiveness, it is highly recommended that you receive the second dose within the specified timeframe as directed by the manufacturer. If you don’t receive the second shot, you will greatly decrease the chance of the vaccine working.

Vulnerable Populations

  • COVID-19 vaccination may not be for everyone. If you are unsure if you should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, please call your healthcare provider to discuss the possible benefits and risks.
  • Following guidelines from the FDA, no one is excluded from receiving the vaccine, even patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The only medical contraindications to receiving this vaccine are severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine or severe allergic reaction to components of this vaccine. If you have an individual question regarding a medical condition, you can contact us at vaccine@ochsner.org.
  • Currently, there are a few trials that are enrolling various age groups including children ages 12 or greater.
  • Just like the adult COVID-19 vaccine trials, data from children and adolescent COVID-19 vaccine trials will need to support the safety and efficacy of the vaccines before approval for the population.
  • Ochsner will only recommend and administer vaccines that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certified as safe and effective for all patients and employees, including our most vulnerable populations. The benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of forgoing immunization.
  • The claim circulating on social media that the COVID-19 vaccine causes female infertility is FALSE and is not supported by any research. Following guidelines from the FDA, no one is excluded from receiving the vaccine, even patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there are no medical contraindications to receiving this vaccine. Ochsner is encouraging all employees and patients to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. You may review this advice from the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine for those pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Following guidelines from the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA), no one is excluded from receiving the vaccine as there are no medical contraindications except for a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine or any of its components.
  • Because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, MyChart or the COVID hotline will automatically schedule the second dose at the same location with the appropriate length of time (21 or 28 days depending on which vaccine you receive) between visits. You must be able to attend the second appointment in order to schedule the first.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Questions

  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two shots each – one shot followed by a booster either 21 or 28 days later depending on the vaccine. Each uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, which gives cells instructions to create a protein like the SAR-CoV2 protein. Once the protein is created, it triggers the immune response leading to the production of antibodies.
  • The J&J vaccine uses one shot. It utilizes the adenoviruses which are the same viruses that can cause the common cold. These inactivated/non-infective adenoviruses can be used to deliver DNA, which are instructions for proteins. For the COVID-19 vaccine, researchers swap in a gene from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) so that the modified cold virus makes the SARS-CoV2 protein, stimulating production of antibodies and additional immune responses to fight off the virus. The process creates an immune memory, which ultimately teaches the body to both recognize and attack the virus.
  • Common side effects included injection site pain, headache and fatigue, similar to those of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. They are reported be generally mild to moderate, resolving within 1-2 days, with 1% to 2% reported as severe.
  • On average, seniors reported fewer and milder side effects than those under 60 years of age.
  • FDA said the vaccine has a "favorable safety profile" with "no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA."
  • Protection against moderate/severe disease starts about two weeks after you get vaccinated. By four weeks after the shot, data from the clinical trial showed there were no hospitalizations or deaths.
  • The type of vaccine available at each site is dependent upon supply. When scheduling, you will be asked to choose a vaccine type. If you do not find an appointment date and time with that vaccine type, please try again by selecting a different vaccine type.
  • We urge those who meet the vaccine eligibility criteria to receive any of these vaccines once supply is available to them.
  • On Tuesday, April 13, federal health agencies called for an immediate pause in use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after six recipients in the United States developed a rare blood clot disorder, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, within about two weeks of vaccination.
  • This decision was made so that it could be investigated to determine if there is a correlation between the vaccine and this medical condition.
  • The safety of our patients and community is our highest priority. At the recommendation of the CDC and the FDA, Ochsner Health is pausing the use of the J&J vaccine until more information is available. While we have not seen any of our patients experience this type of reaction, we took immediate action upon learning of this guidance. We continue to encourage COVID-19 vaccination and have an adequate supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
  • Patients who were scheduled to receive J&J at an Ochsner vaccination site will now receive Pfizer or Moderna. Any patients impacted by this change will be contacted directly and have the option to reschedule their vaccine to a later date.
  • CVST occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses. This prevents blood from draining out of the brain, which can cause blood cells to break and leak blood into the brain tissue, forming a hemorrhage. It is a rare form of stroke, affecting 5 people in 1 million every year.

Symptoms of CVST may vary, depending on the location of the thrombus. Responding quickly to these symptoms makes it more possible to recover. Physical symptoms that may occur include:

  • Severe headache
  • Sudden changes in vision/blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Pain extending to your shoulder, arm back or jaw
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of your face, arm or leg
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Loss of control over movement in part of the body
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Six people out of the 6.8 million who have received the J&J vaccine in the U.S. experienced this rare blood clot 6-13 days after receiving the J&J vaccine.
  • People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport is always ready to provide the high-quality care you deserve!