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Long Lines For Vaccinations At Dodger Stadium May Be Getting Shorter

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Dodger Stadium COVID-19 Vaccination site on Jan. 19. L.A. buildings are illuminated amber red to support the Biden Inaugural Committee's COVID-19 Memorial. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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Dodger fans are used to long delays getting out of the parking lot. But this week, the wait times at Dodger Stadium were for vaccinations. Some residents in the newly eligible 65 and older age group said they waited anywhere from one to five hours to get their shot, depending on the day and time of their appointment.

So what slowed everything down? One issue: On Wednesday, wait times were particularly slow, in part because fewer nursing students showed up to help staff than expected. City officials said some had safety concerns about working on Inauguration Day.

Another factor: officials said that on Wednesday, many seniors showed up without an appointment.

David Ortiz is with the Los Angeles City Fire Department, which is helping operate the site. He said the problem is the site accepts patients by appointment only, but a lot of folks didn't realize that, and were confused when the 65+ announcement was first made on Monday:

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"Obviously, there was some confusion. We tried to accommodate as many of these elderly people as we could. And it just became a hindrance. Today [Thursday] we're trying to streamline our efforts and abide by appointments only."

Bob Gumer in Echo Park called into our newsroom's public affairs show, AirTalk, while he was in line at Dodger Stadium Thursday. An hour past his appointment time, he still wasn't able to see the front of the line.

"I'm not sure how long I have more to wait," he said.

By Friday, it seemed that wait times had started to decrease. Silver Lake resident Roberta Richardson and her husband had an 8:50 a.m. appointment, but arrived early at 8 a.m. and were checked in. She said they were done and out by 10 a.m. – and they waited a bit longer than the suggested 15 minutes after getting the shot, due to a history of allergic reactions to medication.

"It was much emptier when we left," she said.

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Many seniors are calling their friends to ask for advice on which times of day have the shortest waits. "A friend yesterday said it took her one hour," Richardson said.

There were 8,000 coronavirus vaccination appointments scheduled yesterday (Thursday) at the stadium. The city's goal is to vaccinate 12,000 people a day at the site, but officials say more doses and staff are still needed.

Pasadena officals said they were also having issues with seniors arriving without appointments, which was slowing down the queue.

L.A. County health director Barbara Ferrer told LAist/KPCC that it is quite important that residents have an appointment before showing up for the vaccine.

"It's super hard at a site, to be able to manage lots of people coming without their appointments," she said. "So while we understand appointments are scarce, best to wait until you have an appointment and not to just show up at the sites without them. Unfortunately, lots of people get turned away becasue they don't have appointments and that's always so sad, for everone involved."

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Ferrer said by the end of this week, wait times at all five vaccination super sites, decreased "significantly." Now, at all five locations run by county, she says wait times should be under an hour and "at certain times of the day, it's less than 30 minutes."

She added that building an operation this large from scratch is always a challenging process, with a lot of issues "that constantly need to be worked out."

L.A. County health officials apologized this week for the appointment website crashing – and for not having enough appointments available due to limited vaccine doses.

Some LAist readers have reported being able to sign up for an appointment at Dodger Stadium via Carbon Health.

READ MORE ABOUT LOCAL VACCINE DISTRIBUTION:

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