With those who can get an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine in Los Angeles facing long wait times, officials are working to ramp up capacity at the massive Dodger Stadium center and other sites.
The city has increased staffing to reduce wait times and make the process more efficient. More than 80,000 people have gotten a shot at the five city-run sites since they first opened, including more than 46,600 this week — a 90% increase since last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a briefing delivered at Dodger Stadium Thursday evening.
The stadium site expects to be able to vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day once it’s operating at full capacity.
Dodger Stadium wait times have decreased to 30-40 minutes on average, Garcetti said. But he advised those visiting to use the bathroom beforehand (although there are portable facilities on site), bring water and snacks, and make sure their gas tank is full.
Garcetti said city officials are “working day and night” to expedite the process, but acknowledged that vaccine availability “is not and will never be in our direct control.”
The briefing comes as Garcetti has been focused on propping up the city’s five new vaccination distribution centers, which this week joined others countywide in expanding availability to residents 65 and older.
Garcetti said he skipped a trip to Biden’s inauguration — of which he was a co-chair — to be at Dodger Stadium, and was even on hand when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger got his shot at the stadium parking lot Wednesday.
The city is about to reach one important milestone in its vaccination process: By the end of the day Friday, all residents at nursing homes in the city of L.A. will have gotten a shot, Garcetti said.
But when asked about state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan’s estimate that vaccinating Californians age 65 and older could take until June to complete, Garcetti called that “a correct calculation.”
The vaccine’s expansion to older Angelenos has been hampered by what health officials warn is extremely limited supplies.
“We just are not receiving enough vaccine doses to move as quickly as we would like,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said Wednesday.
Next week, nearly three-quarters of the vaccine doses the county is set to receive will be allocated toward second doses. That leaves only 37,900 shots to administer as a first dose, according to public health officials.
However, some more doses may be freed up after state officials said Wednesday night that it is safe to resume using a batch of the Moderna vaccine following an investigation into reports of people falling ill. The decision was expected to free up around 330,000 doses statewide.
Angelenos faced further frustration when the county’s website for making appointments, vaccinatelacounty.com, crashed amid excessive demand shortly after availability was offered to those 65 and older.
Ferrer said the county plans to unveil a new online appointment scheduling system next week, and capacity will be expanded at its scheduling call center, accessible at 833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily.
City and county residents can also get an appointment through the city’s vaccine portal.