Teachers, essential workers now eligible for vaccinations

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The pool of residents eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations vastly expanded in Los Angeles County March 1, with teachers and other essential workers added to the list of those who qualify for vaccines.

Workers in education and child care, food and agriculture, and law enforcement and emergency services all became eligible for shots — but health officials said those workers will have to be patient as vaccine supplies remain limited and staff are being trained to ensure only eligible people receive shots. The newly eligible workers represent anywhere from 1.2 million to 1.7 million people.

Therefore, it will take considerable time to vaccinate these groups, unless vaccine supply significantly increases,” said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health. “We urge the public’s patience as we work through this process as quickly as possible.”

Los Angeles County residents can visit vaccinatelacounty.com to book appointments, or myturn.ca.gov for eligibility questions.

Residents age 65 and older also remain eligible for the shots, and the county’s public health director said last week roughly 700,000 of them are yet to receive their first dose. Health care workers also are still being vaccinated, along with residents and staff of long-term care and nursing facilities.

Simon said last week that the county expects to receive a total of 269,000 doses this week, up from 211,000 last week. With the county setting aside many doses for people who are due for the second shot of the two-dose regimen, a total of 103,000 doses will be available this week for the three sectors of workers and for people aged 65 and over.

Of those 103,000 doses:

35.8% will be allocated to people 65 and over, 27.6% will go toward food and agriculture workers, including grocery workers, 30.3% will be allocated for the education/child care sector and 6.2% will be directed to emergency services and law enforcement.

This allocation is proportional to the size of the population in each sector as well as the size of the unvaccinated 65-plus population in the county,” he said.

Workers in each of the sectors will also have to prove they are eligible to receive a vaccine. Full details are listed on the county’s website.

“For each sector, workers will be required to show proof of their identity, with a photo ID, and proof that they reside or work in L.A. County,” Simon said. “A government ID is not required, just some identification with a photo. Demonstrating that they work in one of the eligible sectors will also be required, and there are a number of ways to provide documentation.”

He said some of the ways people can provide documentation is a employee badge with the names of the worker and the employer, a pay stub with an address, a California food handler card or some other type of official license.

Simon said the county is well aware of issues with people jumping the line to get vaccinated and sometimes-varying identification demands made by workers at vaccination sites. But he said efforts are being made to eliminate those issues.

We are training our staff as I speak,” he said Feb. 26. “And we will continue that over the weekend. We do anticipate, though, that next week will be a learning process. We’re hoping it’ll go as smoothly as possible, but I’m sure there will be some mid-course corrections next week if we see any issues of concern.”