Governor tours Long Beach vaccination site, touts local school reopening plan

Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Long Beach Monday to tour the mass vaccination site at the Convention Center where he lauded the city’s decision to prioritize vaccines for educators.

“Long Beach is a model,” Newsom said, one that he hopes will be replicated in counties and cities across the state.

Long Beach began vaccinating teachers almost immediately after the state opened up eligibility to them about a month ago, according to Mayor Robert Garcia.

As of Feb. 2, the city had already booked appointments for 6,400 educators compared to about 800 food workers, who become eligible for the vaccine at the same time, according to numbers from the city.

Long Beach has not provided an updated breakdown of how many people in each eligibility group are currently vaccinated, but the number of teachers has grown to at least 7,000.

The mayor said that nearly 1,000 teachers would be receiving their second dose on Monday.

“We’re really excited about that,” Garcia said.

The mayor has argued that all teachers should get the opportunity to be vaccinated before being required to go back to work.

Newsom came to Long Beach as he’s under pressure to speed up school reopenings.

He has said it’s unworkable to wait for all educators to be vaccinated before welcoming kids back to campus. Health officials, including the CDC, have agreed, saying it’s safe to open elementary schools immediately in Los Angeles County and many other areas of the state.

Nevertheless, Long Beach is waiting to reopen its public elementary schools until March 29, after all TK-5 teachers have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.

It was amid that backdrop last week that Newsom announced a plan to prioritize vaccines for teachers statewide by setting aside 10% of all doses the state receives for educators.

The governor has been in a tight spot when it comes to school reopenings, with criticism coming from both sides of the debate.

Like in Long Beach, the state’s powerful teachers’ union has argued it’s unsafe to reopen schools without staff being inoculated. Meanwhile, backers of a recall against Newsom have used the continued campus closures as a criticism of the governor’s handling of the pandemic.

Newsom said Long Beach’s ability to get vaccines out quickly to teachers has been a topic of conversation in Sacramento.

“Consistently, Long Beach is called out as an example of a district and a community that should be looked at should be considered and should be modeled in terms of their effort,” he said.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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