FEMA-supported mass coronavirus vaccination site opens at Cal State L.A.

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One of the first federally run coronavirus vaccination sites in the state and in the country opened at California State University, Los Angeles on Tuesday, part of a ramped-up effort to administer doses more quickly and reach communities hit hard by the pandemic.

The center, which will operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., will have the the capacity to inoculate about 6,000 people daily. Vaccinations are by appointment only and reservations can be made through the state’s MyTurn system.

The Cal State L.A. center, in the city’s Eastside region, is one of two mass vaccination sites in the state that will be run by both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The other location is in Northern California, at the Oakland Coliseum.

The jointly operated centers will in part serve as test areas for President Joe Biden’s plan to open 100 such COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country in 100 days, Newsom said when he first announced the two new locations nearly two weeks ago. The sites are intended to bring inoculations to communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s proximate to a community that has been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic,” Newsom said at news conference held at the Southern California site after its opening. “The effort here is to address that issue forthrightly.”

Each location will have two mobile vaccination clinics that can go to different sites to help get shots in people’s arms.

In addition to the drive-thru area, Cal State L.A. also offers walk-up services that can be utilized by those who don’t have access to a car. The site is accessible by public transportation.

L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de León on Tuesday said the university is the perfect location for such a mass vaccination site because it will serve communities that have largely been forgotten during the pandemic.

“Because Cal State L.A. is situated right in between the Latino Eastside community, and our San Gabriel community has a large Asian American community, it will serve these two populations very well,” de León told KTLA.

At Tuesday’s news conference, L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis noted that at the height of the most recent surge last month, the coronavirus death rate in the region’s most vulnerable communities averaged 36 deaths per day per 100,000 residents. Comparatively, more affluent areas experienced about 10 deaths per day per 100,000 residents, according to Solis.

“Around the same time, our Latinx residents were dying at eight times the rate they once did,” she said.

The state recently released data of the breakdown, by race and ethnicity, of residents who have thus far received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It demonstrated the disparity among the various populations, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

“We’re not where we need to be,” Newsom said of vaccine equity. “We have a special obligation to do more and that’s exactly what this site represents and what the site in Northern California represents.”

Even with the addition of the mass vaccination site, de León said more work still needs to be done.

Once the new center is up and running on the campus, the plan is to send two mobile teams into the community to bring shots to eligible individuals at community centers and schools — something the councilmember says will be a game changer.

As with all other vaccination centers, only those eligible — including front line health care workers or those over the age of 65 — will be able to receive the shot for now.

However, with vaccine supplies in the county remaining scarce, many sites have been prioritizing second doses as of late. That includes the city-run Dodger Stadium site, which reopened Monday after a vaccine shortage forced a short-term closure.

As of Tuesday, the state had administered about 6.3 million doses of the vaccine, Newsom said.

More information about vaccine eligibility in L.A. County, as well as how to sign up for an appointment, can be found here.

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