March 25, 2023


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Cal State L.A. vaccination site closing next month, officials say

State and federal officials said Friday that they plan to withdraw from a COVID-19 vaccination super site at Cal State Los Angeles on April 11, four days before the Golden State will begin vaccinating all residents ages 16 and older.

The future of operations at the Cal State L.A. site, which administers more than 7,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per day, is still unclear.

In a statement issued Friday, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Office of Emergency Services said they were nearing the end of an “eight-week mission” that they described as a success. When the site opened in mid-February, officials said the site was temporary but hoped it would stay open until August.

The Cal State L.A. site and another clinic set up at the Oakland Coliseum helped boost California’s vaccination rate because their funding and doses came directly from the federal government, rather than from the state’s limited allocation. The sites are staffed by the National Guard.

The two sites have administered nearly half a million vaccines in five weeks, and nearly two-thirds of the vaccines were distributed to “targeted underserved communities and people of color,” according to a prepared statement. CalOES spokesman Brian Ferguson said that running the Cal State L.A. site requires about 1,500 staff and costs $10 million per week.

The sites outpaced their initial expectation of each administering 6,000 vaccines per day and were able to hit 7,500 per day on a regular basis, officials said.

“We could not be more pleased with the success of these sites or the partnership we have built with our federal partners,” CalOES Director Mark Ghilarducci said in the statement.

Still, state officials alluded to wanting to continue operations and suggested that federal officials decided to not extend the pilot program beyond eight weeks.

“Without the additional vaccines and the financial support, we as CalOES and FEMA do not have a way to move forward,” said Ferguson, the CalOES spokesman. He said the state and federal governments would be open to helping local officials to “reutilize the site after our work concludes.”

“They know what they have the ability to do or not do,” Ferguson said. “If there’s a way we can support that after our mission concludes, we definitely want to do that.”

A spokeswoman for FEMA said she was working on responses to questions from The Times.

The Cal State L.A. site will begin administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 1. The one-dose regimen will ensure that every patient who has visited the site is fully inoculated by the time FEMA and CalOES leave, Ferguson said.

The Cal State L.A. site also serves as the base of operations for mobile vaccination clinics that have been moving through East L.A. and South L.A. in an effort to improve vaccination rates in areas hit hardest by the pandemic.