Photos: Pelicans players and staff receive Covid-19 vaccinations

Pelicans Gameday Q&A with Ochsner medical director Katherine Baumgarten, MD

During Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans television announcers Joel Meyers and Antonio Daniels interviewed Katherine Baumgarten, MD, medical director of infection control and prevention at Ochsner Health, during the second quarter. Baumgarten spoke about the Covid-19 vaccine and Ochsner's role in the distribution for local fans.

Ochsner Health has announced their latest drive-thru vaccination events will be held on Saturday, April 17 (7:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.) and Sunday, April 18 (7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.) at the Shrine on Airline (6000 Airline Drive). First and second dose appointments of the Pfizer vaccine this weekend can be made at or by calling 844-888-2772.

Joel Meyers: It's an honor to have Dr. Katherine Baumgarten with us. Katherine is the medical director of infection control and prevention at Ochsner Health. First of all, I want to congratulate everyone in the area because I see these national maps and it's decreasing in the state of Louisiana so everyone is doing a good job it's safe to say, isn't it?

Baumgarten: It is. We're glad to see those numbers on the down turn. That's something we've been waiting for for over a year now. We're not there yet though. We still have a little ways to go but certainly it's encouraging that at least in this region, we are seeing the numbers start to downtrend.

Joel Meyers: Let's talk about the safety of the vaccine first of all.

Baumgarten: So the vaccine, I'm sure that your viewers have heard and have seen that there's been some concerns and there's been a pause on the J&J vaccine. We do know that that side effect is a very rare side effect, they're actually trying to see if the side effect is related. They've talked about some blood clots that are in the central nervous system. But again, we're trying to see and put a pause on the J&J and actually see if that's even correlated. The vaccines that we're currently giving are the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines. Those vaccines have been studied in multiple people and have been determined to be very, very safe.

Antonio Daniels: Katherine, does this vaccine actually prevent infection or just prevent the spread of it?

Baumgarten: So, this vaccine is very good at preventing infection. We know that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine can prevent up to 90% of serious infections and prevents death as well. So these things are very important to know and to consider when you're looking at vaccines and these vaccines are very effective. They're also very, very safe. So there's a few side effects that people may get when you get. When you get those side effects, you know that that vaccine's working. Normally, that might be some arm pain, a little bit of fever, flu-like symptoms, but those typically go away in 24 to 48 hours and are very short-lived and certainly much better than getting COVID itself.

Joel Meyers: The one thing you want to make sure is you're not going to be hospitalized. It's preventing death. I think everybody just needs peace of mind, don't they?

Baumgarten: They do. And of course, we've been through a lot with people being ill from COVID, from those that have had ill loved ones and from those that have died in our region and in the United States, but with a vaccine, we have hope. We know that people will not die if they can take the vaccine and I'm not sure what your experience was with the vaccine, but mine was I had a little bit of arm pain and soreness, you have to get a second shot with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. So with that second shot, sometimes you may have a few symptoms as well. But typically, as I said, those go away very quickly and then we do have that reassurance that we can prevent hospitalizations, we can prevent death, we can prevent serious disease from COVID once those vaccines are given. We really need to be sure that everybody gets vaccinated because we need to get to herd immunity and the only way to get to herd immunity is to either get the vaccine or get the disease itself. And certainly, we don't want everybody to have the disease itself. So getting the vaccine is the best way to reach that herd immunity so we can return to some sense of normalcy and be able to come back full-court-press at the Pelicans games, at Saints games, at those things that we love to do. We want everybody to be here and be present and be able to be here for these exciting and fun games.

Antonio Daniels: And you just talked about reassurance, you know, you talk to different people that are kind of thinking twice about whether or not to get the shot. What is some important information about the vaccine that you will want the public to know?

Baumgarten: I would want them to know that we have looked at it, we've studied it. I think people have concerns that maybe the vaccine isn't studied enough but really it's been studied quite well. And we have safety monitoring in progress. And that's one of the things they're looking at right now with the J&J vaccine, that safety program is working. And that's why we're looking at it a little bit closer and putting a pause on it. But the safety checks are in place, the vaccines are safe, and they prevent disease and we want to make sure people are protected.

Joel Meyers: Before we go to break, could you tell us about the upcoming events?

Baumgarten: Ochsner is sponsoring events. These are great events. If you haven't been or haven't heard about it, they're drive-thru events. They're very, very convenient, very efficient, very well run. And you can make an appointment at My Ochsner or you can call 1-844-888-2772 to make an appointment.

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