Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday people age 16 and older with certain health conditions are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, a dramatic expansion in Louisiana's effort to overcome the pandemic. 

The announcement comes a day after state health officials began notifying pharmacies of the new vaccine priority groups, which includes adults of all ages who meet specific criteria that put them at increased risk for severe illness from the novel coronavirus. 

Among those who would qualify for the vaccine, according to an email sent to independent pharmacies, are individuals 16 and older for Pfizer vaccine or 18 and older for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines with the following conditions: 

  • moderate to severe asthma
  • cerebrovascular disease
  • cystic fibrosis
  • hypertension or high blood pressure
  • immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • liver disease
  • overweight
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • thalassemia
  • type 1 diabetes mellitus

Vaccines would also be available to anyone in the same age group who works in a congregate living facility, such as a jail, shelter or group home, according to the email. 

A new medical risk factor self-attestation form was uploaded to the Louisiana Department of Health website on Monday with criteria similar to that outlined in the LIPA email, according to a reader-submitted screenshot. It has since been removed from the website.

The form included all of the criteria outlined in the LIPA email, along with additional medical conditions that would qualify the same age group for the vaccine, including:

  • cancer
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • down syndrome
  • heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
  • obesity or severe obesity
  • pregnancy
  • sickle cell disease
  • smoking
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus

The new eligibility group would significantly increase the number of people who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Louisiana.

Before Tuesday's press conference, vaccines were available in Louisiana to those who are 65 and older, those 55 to 64 with specific conditions, those who are pregnant and those who work in specific fields, such as health care, law enforcement and teaching. 

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