Vaccine shortage in Los Angeles leads to distribution confusion

The City of Los Angeles says it’s out of the Moderna vaccine it uses at five of the city’s supersites, including Dodger Stadium. But the city as a whole is not out, just the city’s supersite function.

This comes a day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, "[By Thursday] the city will have exhausted its current supply of the Moderna vaccine."

For some, those words were as shocking as the news that Dodger Stadium and four other local super sites will close until after the President's Day holiday.

Also shocking, the Mayor says the number of vaccine doses LA received to provide at those supersites for a whole week was what they would normally use in a single day. He said, "That is unacceptable."

This week, the City of LA got 16,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. That's down 90,000 from last week and 29,000 from two weeks ago.

Willem Henning, the District Pharmacy Manager for Vons and Albertsons, says "There is a shortage of Moderna vaccine."

He oversees 57 pharmacies in LA County which over the last six weeks have given out 70,000 shots.

Henning says, "We all would like more vaccine than we’re currently getting."

He also said the allocation system is challenging.

Says Henning, "Whatever is allocated to the state of California has to be divided between all the various counties and the counties allocate to all of the various providers, which are quite a few so everybody wants a slice of the pie."

The pie, though, is changing. Soon, the State of California will hand over allocation duties to Blue Shield.

Why is there a shortage? Henning says, "the state simply hasn’t allocated enough vaccine from the CDC."

There are a couple of issues according to the city:

They can’t operate super sites when they don’t have enough vaccine to help a lot of people. Not just because of the vaccine but also because of the army of technicians, volunteers and others needed on any given day and the money that would be spent to keep these places open. Also, at Dodger Stadium last month, first-timers were getting shots.

This month, those people are all back for second shots along with first-timers putting more pressure on the system and the need for more doses. 

We’ve heard from a number of people so far that reservations are based on the actual allocation received. If 16,000 doses are received this week that’s how many availabilities will be created. The idea and hope are that those who want vaccinations will get reservations that can be fulfilled.

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