A line of more than 100 cars snaked around the Long Beach Convention Center and through its parking lot on Tuesday as the city launched its mass COVID-19 super site capable of handling up to 3,000 people a day.
The rollout kicked off on time at 10 a.m. and as of mid afternoon was running smoothly. People in cars received their shots at about half a dozen pods set up in the center’s mass parking garage, while others waiting at a walk-in area set up in the Terrace Theater entrance. Afternoon wait times averaged about 30 mins.
Health officials were hopeful that Long Bach will avoid some of the hiccups seen at other mass vaccine sites like Disneyland, which last week saw long lines and trouble with its appointment scheduling.
Sitting her car on Tuesday morning, Norma Stein said she was able to get her 89-year-old mother Lenor Delano her shot in the drive-through in about 30 minutes. Stein said she got her own shot at the Disneyland site last week and Long Beach site was “much smoother.”
Stein and her mother said they were both looking forward to having family gatherings once everyone is vaccinated.
“We’re looking forward to things getting back to normal, as much as they can,” she said.
Long Beach is one of just four California cities with its own health department and officials say that has led to a faster rollout.
In a news conference, Mayor Robert Garcia said his city is likely further along that any other California city.
“Right now there is a sense we are getting something right in Long Beach,” he said.
Long Beach is ahead of Los Angeles County and is currently vaccinating residents 65 and older, long-term care facility residents and workers, healthcare workers, emergency essential workers and food sector workers. Long Beach next week will begin vaccinating educators.
Los Angeles County meanwhile will begin vaccinating those 65 and older on Wednesday, however the effort to open appointments was in flux as officials have not yet vaccinated all of its frontline medical staff.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there are adequate vaccine supplies to get through this week’s appointments—about 50,000 of them at the public sites —but the county has no idea how many more doses it’ll be getting next week.
Long Beach is in talks of possibly expanding its vaccination effort to help Lakewood, Signal Hill and Paramount as it receives more doses.
In another benefit for Long Beach, the super site is set up on a 13-acre vacant parcel known as the “elephant lot,” named for its days hosting the Ringling Bros circus. The city for decades has hosted major events in the lot including the Grand Prix.
The site will be open Monday through Friday and will likely stay up for several months as the vaccine becomes more widely available.
Click here for more details and information on how to schedule an appointment, or for more information call 562-570-4636, wait for the prompt and press option 6, and leave a message, or email [email protected].
Appointments are full for this week but the city will add more appointments as it receives more doses. Shipments typically come each Tuesday but health officials said planning can be difficult as the city does not know exactly how many doses it will receive each week.