Los Angeles is beginning to roll out mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics for those without transportation in communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.
The program kicked off Tuesday in South L.A., in City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s 8th District, Garcetti announced in a livestreamed virus briefing.
“Nothing is more important than making sure that all Angelenos have access to the vaccine once they are eligible, and distributing it to those most in need,” he said.
The mayor said the new mobile site met its goal on its first day, though he didn’t specify how many doses were administered.
Garcetti did not say if mobile clinic appointments would be available on the city’s vaccination scheduling portal, or if participants were otherwise selected.
Mobile vaccinations will return to District 8 next week, and another site will also be set up in District 9 “with a goal of scaling this program up as quickly as possible,” Garcetti said.
The news comes after state officials announced earlier Wednesday that they are opening two new mass vaccination centers in an effort to reach vulnerable communities — one at Cal State L.A. in East Los Angeles and another at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in the Bay Area.
Garcetti said that move shows the Biden and Newsom administrations “are prioritizing those communities of color that have been hardest hit by this pandemic.”
L.A. is also scaling up capacity at its own large-scale site at Dodger Stadium. The location opened with the ability to serve 2,500 people daily, but three weeks later is taking 11,500 appointments a day, Garcetti said.
As of Tuesday, the city had administered 97% of the vaccines it had received, getting shots in the arms of more than 200,000 people, according to the mayor. Countywide, nearly 1 million people have been vaccinated.
However, Garcetti said he expects it will be several more months before the city has enough vaccine doses on hand to meet demand.
Officials say they are encouraged that hospitalizations and new cases are down following the holiday surge, with infections dropping 20% over the last week and hospitalizations 13%.
Meanwhile, the virus is getting more opportunities to mutate as it continues to spread, raising new questions and challenges.
On Wednesday, L.A. County officials confirmed the third local case of a variant first identified in the United Kingdom that is believed to spread faster.
“We have to work together to buy time to vaccinate more people by slowing the spread of these variants as vaccinations bring that protection to more and more of our population,” Garcetti said.
The mayor noted that last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said she expects one of the new variants to become more dominant in the U.S. by late March or early April.