Vaccine Eligibility In LA Will Broaden Next Week. Here’s How Officials Are Gearing Up
The city of Los Angeles has administered more than 360,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, and officials want to see that number go up as quickly as possible.
In a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city aims to increase the number of first dose appointments by March 1.
Beginning next week, the city's mobile vaccination teams will extend their hours to Saturdays.
“This change will provide additional flexibility to essential workers who work Monday through Friday,” Garcetti said, “who have known there's a vaccine clinic in their community but simply couldn't get to it because they were at work.”
WHAT ARE MIDNIGHT VACCINE CLINICS?
Community health workers are also looking for ways to make sure no doses go to waste. In L.A. County, that includes occasionally holding end-of-day pop-up vaccination sites.
Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer, said that those sites — called midnight clinics, even though they do not take place at midnight — are intended to use doses that would otherwise go to waste.
"[They’re] for vaccines that are due to expire because they haven’t been used,” he said. “We have a certain time period to use them before they are no longer believed [to be] as valid.”
MORE PEOPLE ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINES NEXT WEEK
On March 1, the county will start adding teachers, school staff, child care providers, and more emergency service workers to the list of people eligible for vaccines.
Davis says there aren't enough vaccines for all those people currently, but health officials hope the supply will increase after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets approval. All vaccine appointments at city-run sites that were delayed by bad weather elsewhere in the country have now been rescheduled.
Since the holiday-related surge in December, Southern California has seen a major drop in daily COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 patients in the hospital. On Wednesday, the three-day average of COVID-19 hospital patients dropped below 2,500 — down from 8,000 in early January.
Davis told our newsroom’s afternoon news program that while we may be approaching the other side of the surge, we're not out of the woods yet.
“We are still watching if there's any impact from Super Bowl weekend, and then the President’s [Day] three-day weekend,” he said. “It'll take us another week or two to see if we have any impact from that.”
L.A. County officials reported 2,157 new COVID-19 cases and 136 additional virus-related deaths on Wednesday.