Louisiana nurse’s at-home vaccination campaign leads to statewide initiative

“All I want to do is save lives,” Carla Brown says after her husband died of COVID-19 earlier this year

Carla Brown, a nurse from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been on a mission to give people COVID-19 vaccinations door-to-door. Now, her efforts have been recognized by the state’s governor, leading to a new vaccination initiative in her honor.

Brown has been traveling to people’s homes with vaccines and urging residents to take the jab in an effort to protect themselves from COVID-19, according to WBRZ-TV. Following her own husband’s death from the virus, she has gone on to vaccinate more than 2,000 citizens.

As a result, both Gov. John Bel Edwards and East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome have recognized her for her work. On Thursday, not only was she presented with a $25,000 honorarium from the Louisiana Healthcare Connections, Edwards announced that the state has now implemented the Nurse Carla Initiative to further the vaccination campaign that she started.

Carla Brown’s efforts to inoculate Baton Rouge, Louisiana, residents against COVID-19 in their homes led to the establishment of the Nurse Carla Initiative statewide.

The initiative has already enlisted 14 nurses to continue door-to-door vaccination outreach, according to The Advocate. Edwards called Brown an “instrument of peace,” saying “I wish we had a thousand more Nurse Carlas.”

Brown’s door-to-door routine would include herself and a helper, like fellow nurse Missy Hastings, driving from one house to the next in her car, or “a clinic on wheels,” as she described it to WGMB-TV.

“I’ve got a pulse monitor, I’ve got blood pressure cuffs, whatever I need to get them assessed very quickly,” Brown said.

Partnering with a pharmacy, Brown would travel throughout several neighborhoods to provide vaccine shots, as reported by WBRZ-TV.

“When I knock on a door, I can actually give you the vaccine, so it’s no excuse now,” Brown said at the press conference. “If you don’t want to go out, we’re bringing it to you.”

The inspiration for Brown’s actions was inspired by the death of her husband, David, she told WGMB-TV.

Carla Brown, who was working as a psychiatric nurse a year ago, says she feels guilt for contracting COVID-19 herself last March and then passing it to her husband, father and brother. David would check in to the hospital in May where he died after spending seven weeks on a ventilator.

Louisiana Healthcare Connections awards Nurse Carla Brown with a $25,000 honorarium in recognition of her fight against COVID-19. (via WBRZ-TV)

“I know I caused my husband’s death and he would still be here if I wouldn’t have brought this virus home,” Brown said. Following his death, Brown transitioned from a psychiatric nurse to become a hospice nurse.

The efforts of Brown and the announcement of the Nurse Carla Initiative are needed more than ever now, as COVID-19 and its Delta variant continue to surge through Louisiana.

As of Aug. 21, the daily average of positive tests in the state was 5,020, a 9% increase in the past 14 days, according to a tally kept by the New York Times. The daily average of COVID-related deaths has also increased to 57, an 89% increase in the same time frame.

Only 39% of Louisiana citizens of all ages have been fully vaccinated.

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