LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Officials are continuing the push for an accelerated rollout of the coronavirus vaccine throughout Los Angeles County.
Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement on Wednesday that the state is immediately allowing residents 65 years and older to get coronavirus vaccines, alongside frontline workers and other priority groups.
As seniors can begin to get in line for vaccinations, there is still a concern throughout L.A. County about how quickly these vaccines can get distributed to the public considering what some experts have classified as an already bogged-down vaccination system.
On Wednesday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says they are ramping up vaccinations and still plan to finish vaccinating 500,000 additional healthcare workers by the end of this month.
Ferrer also says the county needs many more doses from the state to be ready to vaccinate people 65 years and older in the next round.
“We are now on pace to vaccinate as soon as resources are available,” Ferrer said. “I know how frustrating folks and L.A. County are. I’ve been on a call with other directors. We are not done with healthcare workers, we don’t have a vaccine to even get that quickly to healthcare workers.”
UCLA business professor Christopher Tang concurred, saying that California still has a ways to go before most of the population is vaccinated.
Tang specializes in production and operations and has been watching the slow distribution of the vaccine here locally.
“Right now, the bottleneck is not the supply of the vaccine. We actually have the vaccines, but it’s not giving out,” he said.
According to Tang, L.A. County did not have the infrastructure in place ahead of time to make sure the vaccines could be administered quickly, like knowing in advance which healthcare workers actually wanted the vaccine.
He said partnerships with private companies to establish a website would’ve been beneficial.
“With so much uncertainty, unless there is a very sophisticated information system, like Amazon and maybe you can schedule an appointment, make a commitment, which means when you schedule, you committed to take the shot,” Tang said.
The county is planning to open five large-capacity vaccination sites next Tuesday that will speed up vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers along with 10 health care clinics and 30 pharmacies.
“I know it sounds simple, but actually, these vaccine requirements and the fact that people have to be registered and approved before they can actually do the vaccinations, has made it a little more cumbersome than otherwise, we might have expected,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer says mass vaccination sites are still for healthcare workers, but they plan to start vaccinating at the beginning of February for those people in the next round.