On a day of confusion and frustration, vaccination centers in Los Angeles, due to close on Friday due to supply shortages, ran out of doses earlier than expected and had to turn people away on Thursday.
The incident underscored the severe supply shortages as California sought to extend vaccinations beyond medical workers and seniors to other groups, including key workers and teachers. Los Angeles county officials said they hope to expand eligibility in the coming weeks, but admitted there will be competition for cans until the supply chain opens.
The sites will reopen when the city receives more vaccines, Mayor Eric Garcetti said – likely after the Holidays on Presidents Day.
The city received just under 16,000 cans this week, compared to 90,000 cans the week before. The reason for the significant decline is not clear, said Garcetti. He urged federal and state agencies to send vaccines into the city.
“When vaccines come to Los Angeles, we know how to give them,” he said. “We have set up a great infrastructure … and we will make it available to people efficiently and safely. The problem is we still don’t get enough doses early enough. “
The five locations, including Dodger Stadium, Crenshaw Christian Center, San Fernando, Lincoln Park and Hansen Dam, were due to close on Friday. According to Andrea Garcia, a spokeswoman for Garcetti, they had already used up their supplies by Thursday morning.
“Due to an unforeseen vaccine shortage today, LA city vaccination centers ran out of doses earlier than expected,” Garcia said, adding that the city was able to secure additional vaccines quickly and nearly 3,000 morning appointments at Dodger Stadium on Thursday afternoon move .
According to the mayor’s office, the additional doses were obtained from a county location through the LA County Department of Public Health.
The shortage compounded growing concerns over vaccine supplies in a week that was already unpredictable. Garcetti described the vaccine supply problems on Wednesday as “an enormous hurdle in our race to vaccinate Angelenos”.
“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials arrive here in Los Angeles, and I’m very concerned right now,” Garcetti said.
Although Dodger Stadium was well on its way to becoming the largest vaccination site in the country, with a capacity of 12,000 shots per day, vaccination rates at this location rarely approached that target, and instead hovered around 7,000 per day.
Although the city-run locations were preparing to close on Friday and Saturday, people who arrived at the locations Thursday morning for their shots were surprised to learn they had already gone out.
“There was no warning or email notifying us,” said Vanessa, a health care worker, who asked that her last name not be used. Vanessa received her first dose on January 16 in Lincoln Park and only found out after arriving on Thursday that she was not going to get her second dose as planned.
“There was someone at the entrance to let us all know that they hadn’t received any vaccines today and would contact Carbon Health to reschedule,” she said. “Everyone parked just to walk and find out there weren’t any.”
City officials said anyone affected by the shortage on Thursday had been notified that they could come to Dodger Stadium between 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to get their scheduled shot. According to spokeswoman Lindsey Whitehouse, Carbon Health issued texts, calls and emails to move 2,987 appointments.
At the district level, the vaccination sites remain open, with the focus on second doses. Pomona Fairplex, the Forum, the County Office of Education in Downey, Cal State Northridge, El Sereno, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, and the Balboa Sports Complex in Encino are limited to secondary doses only for the rest of the week.
“Those looking for a first dose in these places will not be vaccinated,” said the LA county health department.
Overall, the range of seesaws makes it difficult for California to meet vaccination needs. According to The Times Vaccination Tracker, only 2.4% of the roughly 40 million people who live in the state have received both doses.
On Thursday, President Biden announced that his government had secured a total of 600 million cans, which are split evenly between Pfizer and Moderna and are expected to be dispensed by the end of July. That amount will be enough to fully vaccinate all approximately 260 million people eligible for shooting in the United States
Moderna has agreed to deliver 100 million doses by the end of March, an additional 100 million by the end of June, and the last 100 million by the end of July. Pfizer is expected to meet the same March target and plans to deliver an additional $ 100 million by the end of May, two months earlier than contractually required. The company is expected to ship its last $ 100 million by the end of July.
But vaccine makers need to speed up to stay on target.
Moderna is well on its way to deliver 6.7 million cans to the federal government next week. If that weekly rate stays the same, Moderna will fall below 14 million from its 100 million dose target by the end of March. If Pfizer maintains its weekly rate of 4.2 million doses, the company will lose 33 million doses of its 100 million dose target by the end of March.
A representative from Moderna said “production and releases are not linear” and the company will be able to increase production yields over time. Pfizer representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Around 1.2 million cans of Pfizer and Moderna flow into California every week.
Federal officials hope the situation will improve in the coming months.
The United States could see an “open season” for COVID-19 vaccine doses through April, said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday, an optimistic forecast that will come if states continue to demand additional supplies to accelerate their rollout.
Though the nation will be a long way from giving doses to all who need them by then, Fauci believes conditions will improve enough that health officials can start vaccinating the wider population.
“I would envision that by April this is exactly what we would call the ‘open season’ – virtually anyone and everyone in any category could get the vaccine,” the top of the US government infectious disease expert said during an appearance on NBC ” Today “show.
In California, those who work in health care, live in long-term care facilities, or are 65 years of age and older can currently be vaccinated. Teachers, childcare workers and other educators, food and farm workers, and law enforcement agencies are also eligible – although many local health departments have not yet allowed these groups to sign up for appointments as vaccine supplies remain scarce.
Health officials across the country have stated that supplies are the biggest barrier to speeding up vaccinations. Dose assignments varied from week to week, and until recently officers were given little insight into how their broadcasts would look a few weeks in the future, making long-term planning a challenge.
Nationwide, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 66 million vaccine doses were dispensed and around 44.8 million were administered.