Los Angeles County Public Health officials said Wednesday appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine were “extremely limited,” one day after announcing that residents age 65 and older can now join health care workers in receiving the vaccine.
Since Tuesday afternoon, those in the 65-and-up age group were given the green light to sign up for an appointment either by phone or online but soon after the announcement, the county website, vaccinatelacounty.com, had crashed for several hours.
While thousands were able to book an appointment, including at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and Six Flags Magic Mountain, others were faced with a message that there were no more slots available. All appointments filled up, but some were canceled. As of Wednesday afternoon, a new memo read that appointments were limited following those cancellations.
“Thousands of individuals were nevertheless able to schedule vaccination appointments and, at this time, appointment slots available at county sites are extremely limited,” read the statement. “While we are continuing to work with our state partners to improve the functionality of the website, we ask for the public’s patience as we build capacity and supply.”
Due to high demand, the county has added capacity to its call center and is working to improve its website, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday during a media briefing, adding that “available appointments filled quickly, so please keep checking our website, as there may be some cancellations.”
The vaccination process is constrained by the pace of doses received, Ferrer reiterated.
“We just are not receiving enough vaccine doses to move as quickly as we, and you, would like us to,” she said.
L.A. County would need more than 4 million vaccines to inoculate an estimated 1.4 million residents who are age 65 or older and about 700,000 to 800,000 health care workers twice. To date, the county has received 853,650 doses, according to Ferrer. At Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, a total of 5,000 vaccines have been administered to date, Dr. Larry Kidd confirmed Wednesday.
On average, the county has received between 110,000 and 60,000 doses weekly and, for the upcoming week, an estimated 144,000 have been allocated, according to Ferrer, who described the vaccine-allocation and planning process as “long” and “not that easy.”
The state typically sends to counties information on how many doses will be allocated for a new week on Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings. From there, Public Health officials determine how many can be used for first and second doses. L.A. County often receives the Pfizer vaccine on Mondays and the Moderna vaccine on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, according to Ferrer.
“Our ability to protect even more L.A. County residents in the coming weeks and months is entirely dependent and constrained by the amount of vaccines we receive each week. And often, we do not know from one week to the next how many doses will be allocated to L.A. County,” she said.
Ferrer also thanked those who tried to sign up for a vaccine appointment for their patience, and said, “we’re very sorry for those who experience problems yesterday.”
To sign up for an appointment, visit vaccinatelacounty.com and those without internet access can sign up via a call center at 833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week.