Los Angeles Quickly Shuts 5 Coronavirus Vaccination Websites
In the face of a shortage of coronavirus vaccine doses, Los Angeles will temporarily close five of its Dodger Stadium vaccination sites, including one of the largest in the country, raising new questions about the federal government’s handling of supplies and distribution.
By Thursday, the city will have exhausted its supply of the Moderna vaccine for appointments in the first dose, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference. The centers will be closed on Friday and Saturday and are slated to reopen by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, he said.
“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials arrive here in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti. “As your mayor, I am concerned that our vaccine supply is uneven, unpredictable and, too often, unfair.”
Given the limited supply and logistical hurdles, the United States has endeavored to launch a mass vaccination campaign. President Biden has promised to give 100 million vaccines by the time he takes office on April 30, 100 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that around 33.8 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including around 10.5 million people who were fully vaccinated.
The federal government has released approximately 66 million cans to states, territories and federal agencies, many of which are reserved for second doses. State and federal officials have come under fire for their handling of vaccines as demand far exceeds supply and health care providers struggle to predict how many doses they might receive.
According to CDC data, about 10 percent of Californians have received a vaccine.
The city-operated Dodger Stadium opened on January 15 and vaccinated more than 85,000 people in the first two weeks, despite waiting times that could sometimes be hours. Administrators have cut waiting times, and the site averaged over 6,000 recordings a day last week, far more than any of the other sites in the city.
As of Wednesday, Los Angeles had received 316,947 doses, 98 percent of which were administered and 5,201 available, according to city officials. Demand for the vaccine has only increased in recent days, and healthcare workers and residents aged 65 and over are eligible to receive the vaccines.
The total number of shots fired on Wednesday was a daily record. Almost 19,000 were vaccinated at the five sites and two mobile clinics. But Mr Garcetti said Los Angeles only received 16,000 new doses of the vaccine this week.
As of December, California saw a dramatic increase in virus cases in the southern part of the state and its main agricultural region, the Central Valley, as well as the spread of a new local strain that may be more transmissible.
California now leads the nation in cases and deaths. Infections peaked during the holidays and have been going down since mid-January, but deaths remain at record highs.
Mr Garcetti said Los Angeles hospital stays fell to about 3,700 on Wednesday, the lowest number in months.
Dodger Stadium was one of several mass vaccination sites that opened in stadiums and convention centers across the country. The sites typically dispense thousands of cans in a drive-through format so people can stay in their vehicles. However, the mass vaccine model has encountered supply, engineering and logistical problems. In Dallas city officials were grappling with technical malfunctions in the appointment registration system that resulted in people being turned away at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Two mass vaccination sites in Arizona, State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, were in no danger of running out of vaccine, but officials limited appointments at the sites based on expected supplies of Pfizer vaccine, a spokesman said of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Despite concerns about the shortage, Los Angeles will continue its mobile vaccination program, Garcetti said. “We can’t afford to see the outbreaks and, quite frankly, the unequal deaths that we see in color communities,” he said.