Los Angeles County Teachers Eligible for Vaccine Starting Monday

Teachers and workers in child care, emergency services, and food and agriculture will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Los Angeles County starting Monday, although authorities warn that the pace will slow due to the limited supply.

Nearly 1.2 million people fall into these newly approved categories, according to county estimates. They will join the roughly 2.2 million Los Angeles County residents who are already eligible to be vaccinated: those who work in healthcare, live in long-term care facilities, or are 65 and older.

“Opening eligibility to more groups of essential workers will save more lives and accelerate our recovery,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Sunday.

The county has so far administered more than 2.1 million doses of vaccine (first and second doses), according to The Times’ vaccine tracker.

Newly eligible residents will be able to schedule appointments at city-run vaccination sites starting Monday, the mayor’s office said, but only a small number of first-dose appointments will be available this week at Pierce College.

The 70,000 doses of Moderna vaccine the city expects to receive on Monday will go primarily to its six mass vaccination sites, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, for second doses, Garcetti’s office said. Second injection appointments were automatically scheduled for people who received their first dose at a city-run site between February 1-6.

An additional 7,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected Monday will be provided as first doses through the city’s mobile vaccination program, which aims to deliver the vaccines directly to the worst-hit neighborhoods, authorities said.

The program will triple the number of doses administered this week, from 4,000 to 12,000, through first-dose clinics in Baldwin Hills, South Park, Highland Park, Panorama City, Westlake and Pacoima and second-dose clinics in Baldwin Hills. South Park and Vermont Vista, the city said.

Supply remains the main barrier to distributing more vaccines, Garcetti’s office said, noting that last week the city administered more than 90,000 doses, a peak, but still only 68% of the program’s capacity.

Like many states, California has phased the vaccine, establishing broad criteria for who can be inoculated at each step. Exactly how that has played out has varied by city and county, and officials face tough decisions when it comes to determining who should be prioritized to receive a limited portion of the vaccine.

Long Beach, which has its own health department and receives its own supply of vaccines, began vaccinating food workers and educators in January at industry-specific clinics. More than 3,000 restaurant workers, grocery clerks, cooks and other food industry workers are expected to be vaccinated Friday at a clinic at the Long Beach Convention Center, the city said.

In San Francisco, workers in education, child care, and food and agriculture were eligible for vaccinations starting Friday.

Last week, Orange County began allocating doses to workers in education, child care, and food and agriculture, saying it would dedicate 30% of its allocation to workers in those sectors, as well as those in emergency services; the remaining 70% goes to residents 65 years of age or older. Seniors and first responders working in high-risk communities have been eligible to get vaccinated since mid-January.

San Bernardino County also expanded vaccinations to educators last week, and Ventura County said it would begin vaccinating teachers, food and agriculture workers and emergency services workers.

San Luis Obispo County will begin scheduling vaccinations for some local child care workers and teachers starting Monday; their employer will contact them to make an appointment and they should not try to schedule one themselves, the county said.

California and other states have seen political discord over vaccination priorities, and leaders have said such clashes are inevitable.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) Said his state was about to become the first to fully vaccinate all educators, but the process has been controversial at times. “We pushed our teachers to the front of the line, moving them faster than the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] or other states, “the governor said in an interview on CBS’s” Face the Nation. “

“Everything is difficult in COVID, even the concept of what an essential worker is: is one person more essential than another?”

When it comes to educators, Beshear said, Kentucky was guided by both science and social needs.

“It was a development for our children school, emotionally and socially,” he said. “We made this call from the beginning, we stuck to it.”

Expansions in eligibility come as public health authorities in California and across the country continue to report declines in new cases and hospitalizations.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recorded 1,064 new cases and 107 related deaths on Sunday. There were 1,578 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals on Saturday, a nearly 50% drop from two weeks earlier.

Still, experts say it is crucial to remain cautious.

President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday that even with encouraging news about the declining number of national cases and the accelerated launch of the vaccine, some states, including California, are a source of concern. due to emerging variants of the coronavirus.

Appearing on “Face the Nation,” Fauci said that “we will be” victorious in the fight against the virus, but “we are not there yet, particularly with the variants that are circulating in various parts of the country, such as California. and New York. “

In California, these include the UK variant, which spreads more easily than its predecessors and can be more deadly, as well as a homegrown variant that may have the ability to evade antibodies generated by vaccines or a previous infection.

The presence of the variants, combined with the slow rate of vaccination due to supply constraints and fatigue with public health regulations, have some expressing fears of a possible “fourth wave” of new cases.

That possibility has sparked a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before a sudden surge unleashes another wave of disease and gives variants more opportunities to mutate. Authorities hope to significantly accelerate efforts with the arrival of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine that requires only one dose, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and does not need to be stored in such cold temperatures.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved Saturday by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended Sunday by a CDC committee. Senior officials in the Biden administration said they were excited to add a third licensed vaccine to the country’s arsenal.

“The bottom line here is that we have a safe and highly effective vaccine,” said one official, who requested anonymity when discussing the administration’s plans.

Another official said nearly 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson would be distributed on Tuesday.

However, that represents the entire reserve of the company and it could take time to increase production. An additional 16 million doses are expected to ship by the end of March. Delivery will be “uneven,” the official said, but “we are getting the doses as quickly as possible.”

Fauci, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” called the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “very good news.” If he was waiting for an injection, he said, “I would take whatever vaccine was available to me as quickly as possible.”

Johnson & Johnson’s approval means that “we now have three important tools” to fight the virus through vaccines, Fauci added.

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky agreed, saying in a statement that the approval comes “at a potentially crucial time.”

“The most recent data from the CDC suggests that recent declines in COVID-19 cases may be stalling and possibly stabilizing at still very high numbers,” Walensky said. “That is why it is so important that we remain vigilant and consistently take all the mitigation measures that we know work to stop the spread of COVID-19 as we work our way towards mass vaccination.”

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