L.A. County allocates 11% of coronavirus vaccines to teachers – as new LAUSD mega-clinic launches
Of the nearly 270,000 coronavirus vaccine doses that Los Angeles County officials plan to administer next week, just over 31,000 — or 11% — will go to vaccinate educators, including those in the mammoth L.A. Unified School District.
After second doses for those already with appointments are accounted for, the county will have about 100,000 doses for first-time recipients next week as nearly 1.8 million more people become eligible for inoculations on Monday, March 1.
L.A. Unified will open one of the nation’s largest vaccination sites — with shots going specifically to education staffs — at Inglewood’s Hollywood Park, home of SoFi Stadium, on Monday. The huge clinic will implement LAUSD’s Daily Pass, a data system that coordinates health checks, coronavirus tests and vaccinations in a tool available via cell phone, tablet or computer.
Vaccinating teachers won’t be a quickly completed task. Limited supplies once again have public health officials urging people to remain patient. And they’ll continue to try to trouble-shoot ineligible vaccine-seekers trying to jump ahead of others.
The newly eligible groups include teachers and school staff, childcare professionals and emergency services personnel. In the first week, nearly 27,000 appointments will be offered at county vaccine sites to anyone in these groups. Those can be booked through the state’s MyTurn.Ca.Gov or by calling 833-540-0473.
The next phase of the vaccine rollout relies less heavily on the state’s appointment system, which has caused problems, and more on local pharmacies, clinics and hospitals.
In order to qualify for the vaccine at a county-run site, recipients will need to show some form of photo identification — does not need to be government issued — proving the person lives or works in L.A. County. In addition, the person much show proof they work in an eligible category. Although officials acknowledge the process may face challenges.
“We do anticipate that next week will be a learning process,” said Dr. Paul, chief science officer for the Department of Public Health. “We’re hoping it will go as smoothly as possible but there may be some midcourse corrections if we see anything of concern.”
Vaccines will be provided in closed groups organized by specific worksites or schools. Certain groups will also be designated for various days at the county’s five mega-pod sites. Childcare workers will be prioritized on Saturdays as well as given a specialized site at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Independent and private schools will be reserved for Sunday.
So far, L.A. County has administered close to 2 million doses — including 600,500 second doses into the arms of seniors 65 and older, health care workers and those living in assisted living facilities.
Balancing the need to administer second doses to the large group of people already eligible while at the same time expanding the vaccine to as many people as possible was a dilemma that public officials grappled with, Simon said.
“There is this tension between wanting to expand and give as many groups some opportunity to get vaccinated, knowing that some groups have increased risks,” Simon said, “versus focusing on the existing groups and get as many people vaccinated before moving onto the next group.”
The question came down to math. And without available vaccines, the county just couldn’t expand the groups fast enough.
Friday’s approval by the Food and Drug Administration for a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine stood to make life easier all around as it only needs a single dose. When those doses would first make it to L.A. County was still unknown. Gov. Gavin Newson said Friday the state was expecting 380,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by next week.
L.A. County officials were still only informed how many vaccine doses they would receive from the state on a week-to-week basis, Simon said.
“We are hopeful that vaccine supplies will continue to increase over the coming weeks, though we don’t have definitive numbers,” Simon said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require ultra cold storage which makes it easier to handle, something health officials feel will allow them to better reach some of the smaller clinics.
“With easier storage and handling requirements and an influx of supply, this vaccine could accelerate our progression our vaccine efforts,” Simon said.