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‘A Great Step For Equity’: LA Clinics Praise Expanded COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

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Healthcare workers get vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Community clinics serving poor and working class areas of L.A. are welcoming the state’s move to open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 or older on April 1 and to anyone 16 or older on April 15.

For weeks, clinic directors have had to explain confusing eligibility guidelines and sometimes turn people away in communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the restrictions have hindered the effort to protect everyone, noted Kedren Community Health Center Director Jerry Abraham.

“Getting grandma vaccinated [when] you’ve got five to 10 people coming in and out of that one-bedroom apartment is not a safe environment,” he said.

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The relaxed eligibility rules are “a great step for equity,” said Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Center, which operates a network of clinics in Los Angeles.

“There are many low income folks, Black and Brown folks, who are doing essential jobs that are now going to be eligible for the vaccine,” he said.

The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.

Abraham and Mangia say they’ve been promised more doses in the next two weeks.

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“I hope we have enough vaccines," said Abraham. "I hope we have enough hands to help them, I hope we have enough resources to do it.”

Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, health officials warn it will take months to vaccinate every Californian who wants to be immunized.

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