March 6, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

L.A. County gets another vaccine site; supply remains low

Two more COVID-19 vaccination supersites are opening in California, further expanding the state’s capacity to dole out doses even as supplies remain frustratingly limited.

However, officials say the new inoculation centers at Cal State Los Angeles and the Oakland Coliseum will give California a much-needed shot in the arm, because the vaccines needed to support them will come directly from the federal government and won’t eat into existing state allocations.

Any additional vaccines are a welcome development for the state. In recent weeks, Los Angeles County and other parts of California have had to limit the number of appointments for people looking to receive their first vaccine dose in order to ensure they can provide second shots.

That is expected to continue this week.

In Los Angeles, some vaccination sites that were already slated to close Friday because of supply shortages ran out of doses sooner than expected and had to start turning people away Thursday.

“Our city has the tools, the infrastructure and the determination to vaccinate Angelenos swiftly and safely — we simply need more doses,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Monday.

Health officials throughout the state are singing a similar tune. A shortage of supplies has forced San Francisco to temporarily pause operations at its Moscone Center and City College vaccination sites, according to a public health statement Sunday.

Mayor London Breed voiced her frustrations on Twitter, writing that San Francisco has shown it “can administer shots as soon as they come in.”

“The only thing holding us back is a lack of supply, and I’m hoping that will change soon,” she continued.

So far, about 8.1 million vaccine doses have been delivered throughout California, and more than 6.1 million have been administered, according to data compiled by The Times.

Both of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, require two doses, administered three and four weeks apart, respectively.

Cal State L.A.

The new vaccine site at Cal State L.A. opens Tuesday and will have the capacity to vaccinate up to 6,000 people daily for at least eight weeks, part of a Biden administration effort to roll out 100 vaccination sites nationwide in the first 100 days of the president’s term.

“This is a direct federal allocation separate and apart from what is going to the county,” said Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services.

Both that site and the second one at the Oakland Coliseum will be jointly run by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The two locations were selected, Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week, to focus on underserved areas devastated by the coronavirus and to ensure that “communities that are often left behind are not left behind.”

Churches, social services agencies and other groups will be allocated group tickets for a portion of the vaccines, Ferguson said. The aim is to remove barriers — be they technological, linguistic or other — for people looking to get appointments.

L.A. schools vaccine site

Right now, most California counties are providing COVID-19 vaccines to people who work in healthcare, live in long-term care facilities or are 65 and older. Some places are also slowly expanding eligibility to certain essential workers, first responders and teachers.

The latter group is of particularly keen interest to parents and policymakers, many of whom are eagerly anticipating the wider reopening of schools for in-person instruction.

However, recent weeks have seen heated debate over whether teachers and other staff need to be vaccinated before that goal can be realized.

Efforts to prioritize L.A. County school staff for COVID-19 immunization took a step forward with the announcement from the L.A. Unified School District that the first vaccination site based at a Los Angeles school will open this week.

Then, school leaders and their supporters — mostly from private schools — organized a demonstration urging the immediate reopening of campuses.

The location for the L.A. Unified vaccinations will be the Roybal Learning Center, just west of downtown Los Angeles, with a scheduled opening Wednesday. Those eligible for immunization will be school district staff 65 and older and district employees currently working at coronavirus testing and vaccination sites, “consistent with current public health rules,” L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said in his weekly broadcast remarks.

Although school nurses of any age, and people 65 and older — regardless of whether they are school employees — have been eligible to receive vaccines elsewhere, the effort at Roybal is the first within L.A. Unified to target school employees. Overall, vaccine doses remain in short supply, and it’s been difficult for many of those eligible to book appointments.

As of Monday, district officials were not certain how many vaccinations would be available this week at Roybal. Participation is by invitation only — and will do little to speed the reopening of campuses that enroll about 465,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

L.A. city sites

Dodger Stadium and several other COVID-19 vaccination sites that were shuttered last week amid shortages are set to reopen Tuesday, though continuing supply problems mean the vast majority of shots administered will be second doses, Los Angeles officials said.

People vaccinated in mid-January were automatically slotted into appointments for most of the city’s anticipated weekly supply of 54,000 Moderna doses and 4,000 Pfizer doses, a prioritization that the city said complied with directives by county and federal health officials.

Just 4,600 doses will be set aside for initial immunizations, to be administered at Pierce College and at mobile clinics in hard-hit sections of South and East L.A.

Eligibility

As health officials work feverishly to keep up with the demand for doses, California is planning to further deepen the eligibility pool next month.

Starting March 15, people ages 16 to 64 who are disabled or at high risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 will be able to receive vaccinations in California — expanding the total number of residents who can get the shots from 17 million to 20 million.

Those who will be eligible in March include those with:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, Stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (body mass index greater than or equal to 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

But officials warn that actually getting a shot will be challenging until more supplies are available.