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California Expands Vaccine Access To Everyone 65 And Older, But LA County Isn't Ready

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A pharmacist at UCI HEalth Center preps the COVID-19 vaccine. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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California's Department of Public Health is expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccines to everyone aged 65 and older, allowing the age group to skip ahead in the eligibility queue. But Los Angeles County won’t be expanding access just yet.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's move puts seniors ahead of first responders, teachers, childcare providers and food and agriculture workers, who are slated to receive vaccines after health care workers and nursing home residents.

In a statement, the governor said:

“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences.”

But L.A. County won’t start in on the 65+ group until it finishes vaccinating health care workers, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said today. There are still 500,000 to go, she said, adding that the county doesn’t have enough vaccines to achieve its goal of finishing that group’s immunizations by the end of the month.
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So far, some 200,000 health care workers and nursing home residents have gotten vaccinated, Ferrer said.

"I know how frustrating it must seem now to folks here in L..A County," she said.

Ferrer said the county has asked the state for more vaccines, so that it can expand to the 65+ age group sooner, but has not yet heard back.

She expressed hope that by next week “we'll be able to enroll many more providers and many more pharmacies [in the vaccination effort], so that they can start in advance booking those appointments” for seniors.

The state plans to roll out a new email/text notification system next week to let people know when they're eligible to receive a vaccine, Gov. Newsom said.

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Efforts are ramping up to create mass vaccination sites across the state, including at Dodger Stadium and Disneyland. Newsom said more stadiums and convention fairgrounds will also be converted into vaccination sites.

The change in California's vaccination plan comes a day after the CDC recommended it to help speed up the inoculation process, which has been criticized as moving too slowly. The federal government has also promised to increase vaccine supply to the states.

READ MORE ABOUT LOCAL VACCINATION PLANS:

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