Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital announced Thursday the opening of its COVID-19 vaccine-distribution site, with the goal of vaccinating nearly 500 people a day.
The hospital’s Los Angeles County-designated location opened Wednesday, vaccinating a total of 349 people on the first day, with plans to ramp up capacity in the coming days, according to Henry Mayo spokesman Patrick Moody.
Vaccinations are expected to be administered to those eligible to be vaccinated per the L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines, with the site set to be open every weekday by appointment only.
In addition, Public Health announced Thursday that it would not yet begin vaccinating those 65 and older for COVID-19 as announced by the governor, due to the limited supply of doses received thus far.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday the state would be immediately allowing anyone 65 and older to get the vaccine, though those in Phase 1A, which includes health care workers and long-term care residents, remain the highest priority to receive vaccines, as demand for the vaccines continues to far exceed supply.
“The current priority is to complete vaccinations of Phase 1A — our frontline healthcare workers and staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities,” county Public Health officials said in a statement released on social media Thursday. “As we near the end of Phase 1A, we can look to start vaccinations for groups within the next phase — 1B, starting with those who are 65 and older as announced by the governor.”
Some Ralphs pharmacies that had been approved for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, including the Castaic location, had already begun vaccinating those eligible, including those over 65, but were told to stop after upper division management reviewed L.A. County’s updated guidelines, according to a pharmacist at that location.
Vaccination appointments are now only available to those in Phase 1A, as determined by Public Health, though pharmacists expect they will be opened up to Phase 1B and those over 65 soon.
Public Health is continuing to work with the state to find additional doses, but it is estimated that vaccination for those in Phase 1B, which includes those 65 and older, won’t begin until early February, with everyone in the phase expected to have been offered at least one dose by late March, per Public Health.
Those 65 and older are asked to coordinate with their health care providers to understand when vaccines will be available, according to state Public Health officials.
Progress on Phase 1A
While L.A. County had hoped to receive more doses in a faster timeline, as of last week 75% of health care workers in Tier 1 of Phase 1A had received their COVID-19 vaccinations, with hospitals having received 220,000 doses, while 67% of employees and 66% of residents of 322 of the county’s skilled nursing facilities have been vaccinated.
Of those skilled nursing facilities commencing vaccinations is the Santa Clarita Post-Acute Care Center in Newhall, which began receiving vaccines on Dec. 28, according to Bernard Tolliver, a Public Health spokesman.
“Henry Mayo got an influx of vaccinations and offered it to us because we’re the skilled nursing facility in this community, so a lot of us went over there and got the Pfizer vaccine through Henry Mayo, and then the ones who were not ready to get it at that time or wanting to wait for the Moderna were vaccinated in the facility,” said Lindsay Crowe, the center’s director of staff development.
Crowe has already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine herself, noting the only side effect she felt was soreness at the injection site.
“Both times I had moderate pain; however, it will definitely wake you if you roll on to that arm when sleeping,” she said. “The actual process was very easy. I walked in, registered online in less than five minutes, and the shot was all of two minutes and you wait 15 minutes after for fast side effects.”
Henry Mayo has also been vaccinating its employees and physicians on campus since late December. To date, the hospital has vaccinated just over 2,000 people, with approximately 1,650 of those having received both doses, according to Moody.
Public Health is currently assisting in the roll out of the vaccine to all remaining skilled nursing facilities, based on those with the highest rates of infection, while other long-term care or assisted living facilities and congregate living settings are expected to be part of the federal program with CVS and Walgreens.
“We do not yet have much clarity on its progress,” said Michelle Vega, spokeswoman for county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV.
Pharmacy workers at local Walgreens and CVS said they anticipate to have clinics set up soon for long-term care facilities but that they had yet to be briefed with a date for their clinics.
Regardless, the county expects to complete vaccinations in Phase 1A by the end of January.
Last week, Newsom called it “all hands on deck” for the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, announcing that state Public Health officials expanded the pool of people able to administer vaccinations in an effort to vaccinate Californians at a quicker pace, as well as loosened the tiers in phase 1B, which allows those in each tier to be vaccinated earlier, so no dose goes unused.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s vaccination site is scheduled to be open 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Henry Mayo Center, located at 23803 McBean Parkway. Appointments are required. For more information, visit henrymayo.com/vaccine or call 661-200-2619.
Public Health is hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Town Hall 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, which can be viewed via live steam on Public Health’s social media @LAPublicHealth. For the latest information on L.A. County’s vaccination efforts, visit VaccinateLACounty.com.
Vaccination appointments can be made at Ralphs pharmacies by visiting ralphs.com/rx/guest/vaccination-appointments.