COVID-19 vaccination efforts continued across Los Angeles County Thursday, with the effort expanding beyond health care workers and reaching residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities as well as paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Since the Pfizer vaccine was released last week, the county has received a total of 131,625 doses of the medication, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. Those doses, which required ultra-cold storage, have primarily been earmarked for frontline health care workers at 83 acute care hospitals across the county.
As of Wednesday, Ferrer said 38,850 health care workers had already been vaccinated. More than a half-million health care workers are in line to be vaccinated in the first phase of distribution.
The county this week also received a total of 116,600 doses of the more recently approved Moderna vaccine, which will be directed primarily to the county’s 338 skilled nursing facilities to be administered to an estimated 70,000 residents and staff. The Moderna vaccine will also be used for 15,500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, along with about 300 health care workers who are actually administering the vaccines. The Moderna vaccine does not require the same ultra-cold storage as the Pfizer medication.
Once those groups have been vaccinated, priority will move to intermediate care and home health care workers, community health workers, public health field staff and workers at primary care, correctional facility and urgent care clinics. Lab technicians, dental workers and pharmacy staff will be up next.
After that, priority will move to people aged 75 and older, along with essential workers, including first responders, teachers, school staff, day care workers, manufacturing workers, correctional staff, postal workers, public transit, food and agriculture workers and grocery store workers.
Next up will be people aged 65 and older, people 16 and older who have significant underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness, and other categories of essential workers, including those in transportation, food service, construction, communications, media, engineering and water/wastewater employees.
Only then will the vaccine be made more widely available to the general public. Health officials have said it will take months before the general public gets access to the vaccine, likely not until the spring or summer.
Residents can keep tabs on the vaccination distribution process and sign up to receive updates on the county Department of Public Health website, http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/vaccine/index.htm.
Both vaccines require two doses, separated by about three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s. The timing and size of future allotments of the vaccines haven’t been finalized. County officials said earlier they hoped to receive another allotment by the end of the year, possibly as many as 150,000 more doses, followed by weekly allotments of up to 250,000 doses each beginning in January.
Ferrer warned the public to be on the lookout for scammers claiming to have access to the vaccine or an ability to move residents up the priority list to be vaccinated.
“Already we’re hearing reports of private individuals saying they can provide a vaccine to anyone who wants one or needs one,” Ferrer said. “In L.A. County, the distribution of vaccines is tightly controlled at this point, and vaccines are only being offered to frontline health care workers and people who live in long-term care facilities.”
She urged residents to avoid people who try to sell them a vaccine or a higher spot on a vaccine waiting list.
“There is no vaccine waiting list,” she said. “… These are all scams, and if one of these offers comes your way, turn it down.”