LA County is preparing to extend vaccine eligibility to approximately 1.3 million workers in the education, emergency services, food and agriculture sectors on March 1.
Health ministry officials said they would announce a more specific Phase 1b vaccination plan on Thursday once they knew what the vaccine allocation would be next week.
This new stage of vaccination is essential for reopening LA County schools.
Last week, SMMUSD reached an agreement with a teachers’ union to offer limited face-to-face services from transitional kindergarten to fifth grade once the vaccine was available for 15 days.
“We estimate that about 691,000 people will be vaccinated in the education and childcare sector,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health. “Many school districts already have partnerships and capabilities to create their own pods for immunizing employees.”
School teachers in Santa Monica Malibu will be vaccinated at the Providence St. John’s Medical Center, provided that the supply is available.
Hilda Solis, Chair of the LA Oversight Committee, said:
At the BOS meeting on Tuesday, Solis has submitted a motion to distribute millions of N95 masks to schools throughout the county. Solis also emphasized the urgent need to support the Byden administration’s “American Rescue Plan.” It will provide billions of federal funds to help reopen schools.
The county received a green light last week to reopen primary school after falling below the threshold of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Cases are currently just below 20 per 100,000.
Secondary school may reopen when the case rate reaches 7 per 100,000 inhabitants.
“This is a goal that all of us can lag behind,” Feller said.
Hospitalization and mortality continue to decline across LA County cases.
The average 7-day number of cases is now 1,600 per day, a 90% reduction from the peak of over 15,000 recorded on January 8.
On Monday, health officials reported that 1,770,505 people had been vaccinated at least once. That’s 17.6 percent of LA County. As of Saturday, 18.6 percent of Santa Monica’s population had a single dose.
Immunizing the 1.3 million new workers covered in Phase 1b is a daunting task.
“We continue to experience supply shortages and fluctuations in the amount of vaccine we receive each week,” Feller said.
The county is working with employers to establish direct bookings, clinics, and vaccination pods to allow Phase 1b employees to bypass the online booking system.
According to Feller, this system is one of the reasons why vaccination rates are disproportionately low in low-income and colored communities. Many of these residents do not have the time, computer power, or resources to travel far to vaccination sites, constantly searching for online booking slots.
In addition to creating vaccination pods for qualified workers, the county also provides vaccines with a focus on opening sites in the most devastated communities of community organizations and local pharmacies. We are increasing the number.
Feller expressed his hope that the FDA’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would increase vaccination coverage. The FDA will meet on Friday to discuss the vaccine.
“Johnson & Johnson has the advantage of being a single-dose vaccine,” Feller said. “Johnson & Johnson is a very effective vaccine and is used at all sites throughout the county.”
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