A panel of Los Angeles County health officials updated residents on the county’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, as well as who is currently eligible for the vaccine, during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday.
The town hall comes on the heels of the announcement that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was the third to be granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“All three vaccines that have been authorized are extraordinarily powerful, and in clinical trials are 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” said county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis. “Please know, when you come to a site, that there will not be an ability to choose your vaccine brand.”
Nearly 2 million vaccination doses have been distributed to county residents as of Feb. 25, with three additional groups now eligible for the vaccine, including education and child care workers, food and agricultural workers, and emergency service workers, including law enforcement.
Those in one of these sectors must either live or work in the county to be eligible, according to Dr. Seira Kurian, Public Health’s director of medical affairs.
“When you go to get your vaccine, you will need to show documentation that includes a photo ID, though it does not have to be government-issued,” Kurian said. “You also need to show proof that you either live or work in L.A. County and proof that you work in a sector that is eligible to be vaccinated.”
While new groups are now eligible, Dr. Naman Shah, associate chief of Public Health’s health care outreach unit, reiterated Public Health’s goal to continue to provide doses to those in the county’s hardest-hit areas through mobile clinics and partnering with faith- or community-based organizations.
“We’re trying to create new partnerships and strategies to make sure that the vaccine can be accessible and people can get vaccinated barrier-free,” Shah said.
However, Shah said it’s the short supply of doses received that has been the biggest challenge and continued to put constraints on vaccination efforts.
“We have every week the capacity to do over half a million vaccinations, (but) last week, we only had enough doses for 270,000 appointments,” Shah added.
Dr. Eloisa Gonzalez, director of cardiovascular and school health at Public Health, also reminded residents — even those who have been vaccinated — to continue doing their part to slowing the spread of the virus.
“I want to remind everyone that has received the vaccine that it is critically important that you all continue to wear your mask and distance,” Gonzalez added. “The vaccines are very effective and will keep you from getting seriously ill or dying, but until enough people in our community have immunity, either through getting COVID-19 or receiving the vaccine, we must continue to use all of the tools at our disposal.”
The vaccination is free for all county residents, regardless of their immigration status. For more information on the county’s vaccination efforts, visit VaccinateLACounty.com.