More frontline health care workers in Los Angeles County will be able to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday.
The county is currently in Phase 1A of its vaccine distribution program, administering the inoculation mainly to health care workers at the greatest risk of exposure and who work in specific settings.
But health care workers and residents of other types of long-term care, such as assisted living facilities — whose residents are just as old and often nearly as sick — weren’t included in the first group to get vaccinated.
Starting next Monday, however, they will be able to register for the vaccine.
This comes as staff and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities continue to be hit hard by the pandemic.
Getting the coronavirus vaccines into the arms of people in those homes, and eventually to as many L.A. county residents, as soon as possible has become a race against time as cases continue to spiral upward.
In the past week, about 100,000 L.A. County residents tested positive for the virus, county health officials said Saturday. And within the last four days alone, the county lost more than 1,000 residents to COVID-19.
With the process of administering COVID-19 vaccines moving slower than hoped, state health officials last week expanded COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, authorizing local public health departments and providers to vaccinate lower-priority groups when demand subsides or when doses are about to expire.
That means that in addition to frontline health care workers, people working in primary care clinics, specialty clinics, laboratories, dental clinics and pharmacies can get the vaccine.
And if more doses remain, local health officials can move on to vaccinating groups in the next tier, while still continuing to offer vaccines to those in higher-priority groups, according to the California Department of Public Health.
L.A. County expects to complete its efforts to offer the vaccine to everyone in Phase 1A by the end of the month or early February, according to the county public health department.
Distribution would then move to Phase 1B, beginning with everyone age 75 and older and workers considered at high risk of exposure, such as workers in education, food, agriculture, child care and emergency services.
County health officials predict that they might be able to begin offering coronavirus vaccinations to this second wave of recipients as soon as early February.
The county has opened 18 vaccination sites across the region for health care workers with appointments, and an additional six to eight sites are expected to open next week.
More than 151,700 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered across L.A. County to help get the coronavirus under control, according to county public health data as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, the county reported 221 new COVID-19 deaths and another 16,982 coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the countywide total to 906,171 infections and 12,084 deaths.