Los Angeles County residents who are of age 65 and older can now make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Monday.
Starting Tuesday, those 65 and older, as well as those in Phase 1A, are able to make appointments via vaccinatelacounty.com, according to city of Santa Clarita officials.
The news comes after supervisors Barger and Janice Hahn said late Sunday night they were urging the county to expand COVID-19 vaccinations sooner than the Public Health Department’s plan to vaccinate those in that age group. The state previously had given the OK to vaccinate this age group, but up until Monday afternoon, county health officials had said it wasn’t yet feasible.
County Chair Hilda Solis signed an executive order Monday directing Public Health officials to make COVID-19 vaccinations appointments available to people 65 and older.
“L.A. County residents over 65 are now able to make vaccine appointments. Thank you to my colleagues for your partnership and advocacy for our vulnerable communities,” Barger said in a statement shared on social media.
Prior to Barger’s announcement, Public Health officials had said they did not have enough vaccines to address the 65-and-older population, but that they would begin working this week with health care providers and pharmacies to prepare the process one the county’s vaccine allocation increases.
“As vaccine supply allows, we want to expand vaccinations and move through the tiers as quickly as possible. We are very hopeful that our allocation of doses increases enough for us to begin vaccinating seniors before the end of the month,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a prepared statement last week. “As vaccine supply improves, more residents will become eligible for vaccinations.”
The county has yet to complete Phase 1A, the state’s guideline that includes health care workers and staff or residents in skilled nursing facilities. It is expected to be finished within the next two weeks, according to Barger spokeswoman Michelle Vega. As of Friday, an additional 450,000 health care workers had yet to be vaccinated and, as of Monday, nearly all skilled nursing facilities in the county received and administered their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, per the health department.
Those 65 and older, as well as those in Phase 1A, will be able to make appointments via vaccinatelacounty.com.
“Efficient and effective distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to our residents and communities is the most critical hurdle in our ability to recover from this virus,” Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a prepared statement prior to announcing vaccine distribution to older adults. “While we continue to prioritize the vaccination of health care workers who have been on the front lines caring for our vulnerable residents, we must add flexibility to this process and begin efforts to vaccinate those 65 and older.”
Of the county’s 10 million population, those ages 65 and over make up about 70% of coronavirus-related deaths. As of Saturday, when 238 deaths were reported, 81 were older than 80 and more than 90 were between 65 and 79, according to Public Health.
L.A. County is following California’s multi-staged vaccination rollout, currently inoculating those in Phase 1A. Last week, the state Department of Public Health moved individuals 65 and older to receive the vaccine as demand subsides among health care workers but emphasized that those in Phase 1A remain the highest priority.
Other counties across the Southern California region have already begun inoculating older adults.
“L.A. County needs to follow the state’s lead without further delay,” 4th District Supervisor Hahn said in a prepared statement.
At the same time, mass vaccination sites in the SCV have started or are set to begin as early as this week. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital began Wednesday and has been inoculating about 500 people daily, according to spokesman Patrick Moody. Six Flags Magic Mountain is also among five new sites for broader distribution and is set to open this week, marking the second mass-vaccination site in the valley.
Although with limited capacity, Henry Mayo is set to follow new vaccine directives, according to Moody.
“We will follow whatever guidance the county gives us. So, if they expand their guidance to people 65 and over, then we will welcome people 65 and over. We do have limited capacity but we’ll follow their guidance,” he said.