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At This Rate, California Won't Finish Vaccinating 65+ Until June

An ICU RN is injected with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the UCI Medical Center in Orange on Wednesday December 16. Chava Sanchez/LAist
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Here's a sentence sure to raise your heart rate: if the current pace of local COVID-19 vaccinations continues, it'll likely take until June to innoculate all Californians 65 and older. Reminder: it is January.

That's the estimate from state health officials. State epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan explains:

"In a huge state of 40 million people, we're only getting about 400-500,000 doses a week. So it's gonna take us... anywhere from 20 to 22 weeks to actually get through just [those] 65 years of age and older."

Some math: 22 weeks = 5.5 months. End of January + 5.5 months = June.

Pan said that could change if the federal government speeds up shipments of the vaccine... but she doesn't anticipate that happening for at least several weeks.

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The Biden administration says they are aimig to administer 100 million vaccine shots in its first 100 days. Next month, FEMA will set up 100 community vaccination centers as part of that effort – we aren't yet sure how that will affect Los Angeles.

Pan said all this at Wednesday's vaccine advisory committee meeting. The committee is charged with making recommendations to the state about which groups should get the shots next.

The delay in vaccinating seniors could push back the timeline for other eligible groups.

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris says the situation is tragic:

"This is it's heartbreaking. It's heart-wrenching for all of us, every day. And the challenge that we have, is that we don't have enough vaccine. So for every occupational group that we move to now, that means that there's going to be more 65-year-olds and older that die. For every 65-year-old that we prioritize now, there's going to be a lower number [left to vaccinate], but still there's going to be trade-offs of people who get sick and die...we're between a rock and a hard place."

The state estimates are based on allocations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two shots per person.


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