Stadium becomes COVID-19 vaccination center

0
672

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Dodger Stadium has reopened as a COVID-19 mass-vaccination center, with Mayor Eric Garcetti saying it will eventually have the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people a day.

For the time being, the stadium parking lot will cater only to health care workers.

This site will move us closer to a day we can’t wait to wake up and hear about,” Garcetti said alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom in a news conference at the stadium Jan. 15. “A day when we record zero deaths here in Los Angeles, a day in which there are no more families devastated by this virus, a day when we say our economy is fully reopened, our children are back in school, we’re hugging our loved ones.

We know vaccinations are the key to that. With Dodger Stadium, we are throwing open the door to that future.”

The site is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. People entering Dodger Stadium for the vaccine will be separated into three “divisions” — groups of 10 vehicles — to go through the process together.

During the process, each person’s vaccine registration will be evaluated and verified.

The patients will then be screened for risk of reaction to the shot before they are directed to the injection area, where they will park while a clinician injects the vaccine. Following the injection, each person will wait 15 minutes to confirm there is no allergic reaction.

The mass vaccination site was expected to provide at least 3,000 vaccines on its first day of opening.

This is just day one,” Newsom said. “The idea of getting (12,000 vaccines per day) will be significant and will be a logistics opportunity, not just a logistics challenge.”

Los Angeles County began scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for residents aged 65 and older Jan. 19, advancing an effort that wasn’t expected to start until February. Limited vaccine supplies and uncertainty about future allocations, however, has left the inoculation effort shrouded in doubt.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there are adequate vaccine supplies to get through this week’s appointments — about 50,000 of them at the public sites — but the county has no idea how many more doses it will be getting next week.

We need to ensure that we are addressing the hardest-hit communities, and that we are talking about access to this vaccine,” Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said at the news conference with Newsom and Garcetti. “The city is committed to making sure that our residents have a place to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

“Some say that goals of equity should be set aside and instead focus on getting more people vaccinated,” Martinez added. “If we don’t focus on equity now, I’ll tell you who’s going to get the vaccine. It’ll be the people who have the luxury to stay at home and send their children to open private schools. … And the people who will not get the vaccine will be the nannies, the maids, the housekeepers and the gardeners.”

Garcetti, Newsom and health officials have lamented the lack of vaccine availability.

We’ve got to increase the pace and distribution and the administration of these vaccines. The reality is we need to get these vaccines out of the freezer and we need to get them into people’s arms,” Newsom said.

The mayor and other big-city mayors across the country sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden Jan. 13 asking that cities be given vaccine allocations directly instead of funneling them through the state.

But Garcetti said uncertainty about when vaccine doses will become available won’t stop the city from moving ahead with opening the Dodger Stadium site.

When it’s fully up and running we will see as many as 12,000 people, possibly more, come through there and receive their dose — their first dose and of course then later, their second dose of the vaccination,” he said Jan. 14. “And we’re deploying a whole workforce to administer shots, and doing it all without this clear sense of when vaccines will arrive from the federal government. But we have to take that risk. We have to get it out quick and assume that the next vaccine will be there. America deserves that. Los Angeles deserves nothing less.”

Dodger Stadium was previously being used as a mass testing site, but it halted operations Jan. 11 so it could be reconfigured for vaccinations. The city also closed a testing site at the Veterans Affairs Lot 15 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Brentwood.

The move decreased the city’s testing capacity from more than 40,000 to about 27,000 tests per day, according to Garcetti, but he said testing appointments remain available to those who want them. He noted that the city has been seeing a drop in testing demand every day.

He also said the city is adding more mobile testing and looking into providing hybrid sites that offer both tests and vaccines.

Garcetti called the challenge of getting every American the required two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine “the largest logistical undertaking that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime as an American.”

I spoke today with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and members of the administration who are focused on the goals of the next 100 days. And I stand ready to help them meet their goals of vaccinating 100 million people in the next 100 days,” Garcetti said. “Los Angeles will help get that job done.”

Los Angeles County was scheduled to open five additional mass-vaccination centers Jan. 19. Those centers will be located at the Pomona Fairplex, the Forum in Inglewood, Cal State Northridge, the Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia.

County officials said each of the sites will be able to vaccinate about 4,000 people per day. The centers will operate in addition to Dodger Stadium and 75 other vaccination sites the county previously established across the region to administer doses to health care workers and people over 65.

Health care workers can sign up for appointments online at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/HCWSignup/.