Newsom touts COVID-19 vaccine effort at mobile sites in Los Angeles

Gov. Gavin Newsom visited mobile vaccine sites in Inglewood and Boyle Heights today to highlight the state’s efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach communities against the coronavirus.   Newsom said more than 7.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered statewide, while acknowledging that many communities have struggled to keep up with the need for inoculations.

He said federal and state officials are doing all they can to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“At the end of the day, there just aren’t enough Pfizer vaccines, there aren’t enough Moderna vaccines,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the federal government was giving the state a three-week window of how many doses to expect, information that will be shared with local officials starting this week.

His visit came as the county continues to grapple with equity issues in the distribution of vaccines among the area’s Black and Latino population, and as the Southland deals with a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine driven by the destructive winter storm in other parts of the country. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday that doses of COVID-19 vaccine delayed by the storm back east have now been shipped to Los Angeles, and all six city-run vaccination sites will resume operations on Tuesday after being closed through the weekend.

Garcetti said appointments from Friday and Saturday will be rescheduled immediately and those people will be notified by Monday. Residents seeking further information were directed to call 213-634-3059.

The county-run sites were unaffected by the weather-related shortage, as were the mobile pop-up sites like the ones the governor visited Sunday.

Vaccination rates among eligible Black residents lag far behind other ethnic groups, according to data released Friday by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Black residents represented just 5.2% of all people who had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of mid-February, while 33.5% were White, 23.1% Latino/a and 19.1% Asian.

Only 24% of Black residents aged 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 42.8% of White residents 65 and older.   Meanwhile, California’s new system of tracking and scheduling vaccines is being rolled out in 10 counties. The new system, run by Blue Shield, will be used first in Riverside, Kings, Imperial, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus, Fresno and Kern counties.

Los Angeles County will be in the next group of counties to get the system, starting March 3, state officials said.   Newsom said Friday that the state in March will begin reserving 10% of the overall supply of vaccines to be administered to teachers, as part of an effort to speed a return to in-person classes. He said Sunday that the teacher supply would amount to 75,000 doses per week.

Health officials have been warning of a difficult month ahead in terms of access to vaccines, with the already jammed appointment system expected to get even more crowded March 1 when essential workers such as teachers, foodservice workers and law enforcement become eligible for shots. In mid-March, everyone aged 16 and older with a serious underlying health condition will become eligible.

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