LOS ANGELES - Efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the nation are ramping up.
On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom authorized counties to immediately begin offering vaccines to residents aged 65 and older, but LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that given the limited supply of doses, the county will continue to prioritize health care workers -- 500,000 of
whom still need to get vaccinated.
During a press briefing Thursday evening, Mayor Eric Garcetti clarified that there are only two groups in Los Angeles that are prioritized to receive the vaccine… healthcare workers and seniors living in skilled nursing facilities.
"There is no question that getting a vaccine as it is right now, twice to every American, is the largest logistical undertaking that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime as an American. And it’s happening with a startling lack of clear guidance coming from the Trump administration. And against the backdrop of hundreds of millions of doses that we should have secured," Garcetti stated.
Garcetti joined other mayors from across the county in sending a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, urging him to give cities direct access to vaccine supplies, rather than funneling them to states for distribution.
"The bottom line is we don’t have enough vaccines," Garcetti added.
Dr. Ferrer echoed that concern saying the county does not immediately have enough doses to expand the distribution to those 65 and older.
The city of Pasadena, which has its own health department, is also not offering shots to those 65 and older; saying it has limited vaccine supplies that need to be earmarked for health care workers.
Other jurisdictions, including Orange and Riverside counties and the city of Long Beach, have begun offering the shots to seniors.
Los Angeles County plans to ramp up vaccination efforts, opening five large-scale vaccine distribution centers. On Friday, Dodger Staduim will open up as a mass-vaccination center with the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people a day.
These sites will be offering shots only to health care workers. Ferrer said the county hopes to complete health care workers vaccinations by the end of January, then move on to the next phase of distribution for people 65 and older and select groups of essential workers.
City News Service contributed to this report