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COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility Set to Expand March 1 in L.A. County

Photo courtesy of L.A. County

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is preparing to open up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to three additional sectors starting on March 1 — education and childcare, food and agriculture, and first responders and law enforcement – but it will be a challenge to inoculate the more than 1.8 million workers that will be eligible for the shot when supplies continue to be limited.

This county is partnering with schools, unions, businesses, healthcare providers and community partners to set up sector specific vaccination sites. Jurisdictions that have food production and other factories are planning to set up sites for workers to be vaccinated near their workplace. Many school districts are already partnering with providers to create vaccination sites for their workforce, and in some cases, for teachers and staff from other districts or other schools. Employers and unions are also working on plans to provide their workforce with the vaccine.

However, there continues to be a scarcity of supply and variability in the amount of vaccine received from week to week. Last week, L.A. County Public Health received 219,700 doses of vaccine, and the majority of vaccines were used to provide second doses. This week there are 391 vaccination sites administering vaccine in L.A. County, including large capacity vaccination sites like the ones at the Forum and Dodger Stadium and sites run by hospitals, pharmacies, health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Together the county has the capacity for 500,000 appointment slots this week, however there are only enough doses to distribute less than half that; a little over 211,000 appointments. Large capacity vaccination sites alone could be providing 168,000 additional doses if there was sufficient vaccine supply.

“I understand waiting to be vaccinated requires enormous patience as we are all desperate to see this pandemic end,” Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health, said. “I am confident that in the weeks to come more vaccine will be available even if it is not as quickly as we’d like. Eventually, it will be everyone’s turn to be vaccinated and we are very much looking forward to the day when we can scale our vaccination efforts up to maximum capacity.”

Nearly 1,541,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the county, officials said Wednesday. Of those vaccinated, 399,642 people have received second doses. This means 5.1% of the county’s population of 16 and older have now been fully vaccinated. Thirty-nine percent of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Vaccinations are currently only open to healthcare workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and people who are age 65 or older which account for approximately 2.2 million people in L.A. County.

To help seniors who may struggle to get to vaccination sites, starting this week, mobile strike teams began visiting senior housing developments and senior centers to provide vaccines in locations where seniors are living or visiting regularly. We are also working with ride-hailing services to facilitate seniors accessing community vaccination sites and pharmacies are outreaching to their customers 65 years or older to offer them vaccination appointments at their site.

Residents are encouraged to visit the website, VaccinateLACounty.com  and VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish) to sign up for available appointments, learn about the vaccination phases, determine when it is your turn to get vaccinated, and sign-up for our COVID-19 vaccine newsletter. Once it is your turn to be vaccinated, it will always be your turn. Your eligibility for a vaccine will not expire or go away, and you will not miss your window to be vaccinated once eligible.

Public Health confirmed 162 new deaths and 2,394 cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. Public Health also confirmed four additional cases of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. (the U.K. variant), totaling 12 cases in Los Angeles County. 

The seven-day average number of daily cases continues to decline; as of Feb. 9, case numbers declined by 85% to an average of 2,230 cases per day. Wednesday’s daily test positivity rate is 5.5%.

There are 2,855 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, 31% in the ICU. The three-day average number of people hospitalized peaked on Jan. 8, with 8,000 daily hospitalizations. As of Feb. 14, the average number of people currently hospitalized is 3,100, a 61% decrease.

The seven-day average number of daily deaths is also sharply declining. This number peaked at 229 on Jan. 10 and declined to an average of 91 deaths per day on Feb. 9, a 91% decrease.

These decreases are meaningful, and they are good news, but the numbers remain much higher than the numbers seen in the autumn.

Ferrer said that while cautiously optimistic, she remains “concerned that actions over Superbowl weekend and this past holiday weekend could lead to another increase in cases starting next week if individuals were not taking precautions.”   

L.A. County’s adjusted case rate has remained under 25 new cases per 100,000 people for more than five consecutive days, meeting the state requirements for schools to open on-site learning for grades TK–6 if they are in full compliance with state and county directives. The list of schools that are permitted to open for in-class instruction for students grades TK–6 is posted online. This includes almost 300 schools already open under the previous waiver program, and an additional 173 schools and 12 school districts are permitted to open with approved COVID Safety Plans.  

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