As Los Angeles continues to grapple with getting limited vaccine doses to those who need them most, the city is opening a new vaccination center at USC and launching an effort to inoculate some residents in their homes.
The new vaccination site at USC’s main University Park campus is set to open Tuesday. Once operating at full capacity it’ll be able to administer thousands of doses each day, but that figure will initially be limited by supply, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a virus briefing Thursday evening.
The USC site will be the seventh vaccine center operated by the city, which is also sending mobile clinics into some of the areas hit hardest by the pandemic. Appointment scheduling information can be found here, or visit the county’s vaccine portal for a broader list of providers.
The city will also start sending teams to vaccinate seniors who are unable to leave their homes due to illness or disability, with the goal of vaccinating 300 next week, the mayor said.
The program additionally plans to serve people living in public housing developments, senior centers and other long-term care facilities. The effort will be expanded once supply allows, the mayor said.
At-home vaccine appointments can’t be made online. Garcetti said the effort is being run in partnership with the city’s Department on Disability and county Department of Public Health.
Other recent briefings from the mayor have focused on the city’s struggle with vaccine supply shortages that resulted in city-run vaccine centers having to shut down and postpone appointments.
But Thursday’s address came after several recent changes to vaccine distribution at the state and federal level, including the authorization and rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the third shot approved in the U.S. and the first that requires just one dose.
Still, supply remains a challenge for California. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state received 1.58 million doses this week, down from 1.73 million doses last week.
This week’s supply included 21,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; next week, that figure is expected to rise to more than 300,000 doses.
Garcetti said the number of Johnson & Johnson bound for L.A. is “limited,” but they are on their way.
“We’ll be getting a small shipment this week and administering them at city sites,” he said. “We probably have to wait a few more weeks for the second batch to come in, but we’re preparing for them.”
Earlier Thursday, Newsom announced California would begin sending 40% of its vaccine doses to the most vulnerable neighborhoods — some 400 ZIP codes where there are about 8 million people eligible for shots. Officials say many of the ZIP codes are in L.A. County, but a full list has not been released.
Newsom has also said the state will set aside 10% of vaccine doses for educators.
As more doses are administered in the targeted neighborhoods, the state will make it easier for counties to move through the reopening tiers.
Right now, counties can move from the most restrictive purple tier to the lower red tier based on metrics including the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over a period of two weeks. The strict standard for that rate will be lowered, allowing businesses such as restaurants and gyms to reopen indoors at limited capacity.
L.A. County public health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that the county is quickly approaching the threshold for advancing into the red tier. Click here for a breakdown of what will open — and what will stay closed — if that happens.
But Garcetti cautioned that the region still is seeing too many new cases and deaths, and the next few months, until May, will prove “absolutely critical” to its ability to emerge from the pandemic.
“It’s kind of like entering the last miles of a marathon and taking off your shoes and eating several hotdogs,” he said. “That illustrates just how absurd it would be if we were to suddenly let up.”