February 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

L.A. to expand mobile vax clinics in pandemic-hit communities

The city of Los Angeles is expanding the number of mobile vaccination clinics in communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.

The city will increase to 10 its number of so-called mobile equity sites: vehicles that go into high-density, low-income communities, staffed to provide vaccinations, Garcetti said. The goal is to have all 10 in the field by the end of March, the city said in a news release.

“We’re seeing still disproportionately low vaccination rates among many of our Black and Latino populations and communities, a reflection not only of historic distrust and community trauma, but also the structural barriers that stand between too many Angelenos and their access to vaccines,” Garcetti said Thursday at a news briefing. “We need to tear those barriers down.”

The announcement comes after data released earlier in the month by Los Angeles County showed that Black, Latino and Native American residents 65 and over were receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at a lower rate than their white, Asian American and Pacific Islander counterparts. The report showed that 17% of white, 18% of Asian and 29% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents 65 and over had received at least one dose, compared with only 14% of Latino, 9% of Native American and 7% of Black residents 65 and older.

This is despite the fact that Latino and Black residents have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. In L.A. County, Latinos are seeing 40 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents a day while Black resident are seeing 20 deaths, compared with 14 deaths per 100,000 white residents per day.

Neighborhoods will be prioritized for mobile vaccination clinics using medical vulnerability indicators developed by UCLA researchers, including the incidence of preexisting health conditions, barriers to accessing service, environmental risks and social vulnerability.

Mobile vaccination services this week expanded to South Park, Green Meadows and Boyle Heights; in coming days, that will widen to include Chinatown, Vermont Square and Pico-Union, the city said in a news release. By the end of March, the city hopes to have additional sites in East L.A., South L.A., Northeast L.A. and the East San Fernando Valley.

Mobile vaccination teams are also working with community organizations and leaders to help people book and travel to appointments, and to build trust in the vaccines, Garcetti said.

Each mobile clinic can vaccinate 200 people a day, and once Los Angeles has an adequate supply of vaccine, the program will be able to expand further, the city said. Clinics have already traveled to South and East Los Angeles and administered more than 4,200 shots since the city launched a pilot program Feb. 2, according to the news release.

Times staff writers Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money and Jaclyn Cosgrove contributed to this report.