LOS ANGELES - The city of Long Beach announced that it is expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine to grocery store workers, seniors, and teachers in phases beginning this weekend.
The Southern California city has its own health department separate from Los Angeles County, which allows its city leaders to make their own decisions on vaccine allocations.
Due to increased COVID-19 guidelines, other cities stated they are considering the creation of their own health departments as well.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who tragically lost his mother and stepfather to the virus, received his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to ensure residents of its safety and that shots will be available to the community in the near future.
"I've been reading a lot of reports about disaster stories happening in other places, other counties, other cities, some horror stories," Garcia said. "That is not happening in Long Beach. Our vaccination process is going well. It's positive and we're getting through our vaccine and people. So we are heartened because of this amazing team we have and the work they're doing."
City Manager Tom Modica and Long Beach Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy also received their first doses of the vaccine as the city begins to move into Phase 1B of the vaccination priority matrix. Phase 1A consisted of healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
On Saturday, the city plans to hold a clinic where it will administer shots to residents aged 65 and older.
Mayor Garcia said the first person to be vaccinated will be former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill who is 90-years-old.
Starting Tuesday, vaccinations will be available to grocery store employees at a vaccination site at the Long Beach Convention Center, officials said.
According to Mayor Garcia, grocery store workers will be able to schedule appointments through their employers.
The following week on Jan. 25, employees for the Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach City College will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Plans remain in the works for Cal State Long Beach employees, officials said.
Garcia said the city will be establishing an online portal next week, allowing residents to submit their personal information and receive notifications about the vaccination program and when they will be eligible to receive shots.
City News Services contributed to this report.