Staff and Wire Reports
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti launched a pilot program with the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy Sept. 22 to provide free flu shots for Angelenos at sites across the city in the weeks ahead.
The mayor announced the effort before receiving his seasonal flu shot at the Weingart East L.A. YMCA in Boyle Heights.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic here and the flu season coming, it’s more important than ever before to get a flu shot to keep Angelenos healthy and avoid a scenario that could overwhelm our hospital system,” Garcetti said. “Getting a flu shot should be part of everyone’s annual routine, and working alongside the USC School of Pharmacy, we will make this life-saving vaccination available more widely, quickly and efficiently to people across our city.”
The initiative will provide flu shots to residents free of charge, with no appointments required, starting at the Weingart East L.A. YMCA Sept. 22 and 23. Next week, the program will visit the Crenshaw Christian Center, providing vaccinations Sept. 30. Each week, additional sites will be added.
Pharmacists play an important role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially when it comes to vaccinations,” said USC School of Pharmacy Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos. “It is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading these coming months.
“So this year, it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine. You can safely get a flu vaccine at multiple locations including your doctor’s office and local pharmacies, or you can walk up to a mobile clinic, with no appointment necessary.”
Anyone infected with COVID-19 or those who have COVID-19 symptoms should not get a flu shot until after they recover, end self-isolation and consult a medical professional. Each mobile flu shot site will apply all necessary precautions to protect staff and patients.
These include strict masking requirements, additional disinfecting between vaccinations, physical distancing, and other measures to maintain health and safety. USC Pharmacy teams will also be screening to ensure individuals can safely receive the flu vaccine.
Garcetti said if the area’s hospitals are overrun by cases of COVID-19 and the flu together, everything residents have worked for by staying home and avoiding gatherings could be threatened.
“We cannot let that happen. We will not let that happen. Now is the time for you and your family to go get a flu shot,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti said the latest county data show the age group with the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases are people between 30 and 49 years old, with people 18 to 29 years old having the second-highest rate.
“That’s a sign that the restlessness may be especially prevalent among younger Angelenos, who have heard over and over again that they’re safe from this virus. They don’t have to worry. They won’t die,” Garcetti said. “But that isn’t true. This virus can have a lasting effect. … More and more research is telling us how many young people and healthy people are being infected and how much they have to lose if they are.
“Even if this disease doesn’t kill you, it can change your life forever.”
Garcetti mentioned a recent report from The Atlantic that cited a study finding that it’s more likely for a 30-year-old person to suffer a months-long illness from contracting COVID-19 than it is for a 60-year-old person to die from it.
Garcetti said he and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger met with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams Sept. 15 to discuss what’s been done in the Los Angeles area to prevent the spread of the virus and to eliminate racial disparities in infection rates.
Garcetti said he told the surgeon general that the message he wants to send to Washington, D.C., is that cities across the nation need federal financial assistance as soon as possible and that Congress should put politics aside to get a deal passed.
Anyone interested in learning more or finding a new location should visit coronavirus.lacity.org/flushot.