By Marie Y. Lemelle
For the past several weeks, the number of people lining up to get the COVID-19 vaccinations has increased, largely due to the county Department of Public Health vaccine sweepstakes.
People are eager to win prizes that include a pair of season tickets to the 2021-22 home seasons of the Los Angeles Clippers, Rams, Chargers, Dodgers or the Los Angeles Football Club soccer team. The vaccine sweepstakes are scheduled to end June 24.
In addition to tickets to sporting events, the contest has also offered a chance for two lucky vaccinated persons to win tickets to see Mexican-American singer-songwriter and actor Pepe Aguilar perform at Staples Center or a VIP experience at Universal Studios Hollywood.
While the state of California’s $116 million program of lottery prizes and gift cards does not compare to county incentives, the county Department of Public Health reports nearly 10 million vaccine doses have now administered in the county.
“We know the most powerful tool we have for keeping cases down and protecting ourselves and others are the COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Tasha Dixon, lead attending physician at Los Angeles County’s Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center and a member of the family medicine residency faculty at Charles Drew University. ”Los Angeles County is committed to providing this life-saving vaccine and is offering some fun prizes as part of our efforts.”
There are additional incentives for persons 18 or older. Persons in that category are eligible for tickets based on these factors:
• If you get vaccinated at a county-run vaccination site, participating L.A. City and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites.
• Bring a first-time vaccine recipient with you to your second dose appointment, then to their second dose appointment.
To stay up-to-date on all vaccination sweepstakes, read official rules and see the list of participating site locations. Visit the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page on the Public Health website.
“The vaccine is safe, effective and free for everyone,” Dixon said. ”However, we continue to see disparities. Those who are unvaccinated still run the risk of getting COVID-19 and potentially getting really sick and even dying.”
Dixon added that the most recent data released by the Department of Public Health shows that only a little more than a third of Black residents and just 38% of Latino residents are fully protected, compared to 54% of white residents and 61% of Asian residents.
Dixon confirmed that 55% of Black residents and 58% of Latino seniors 65 and older are fully protected, compared with 67% Asian and 70% of white seniors.
While incentives are great, Dixon says, she emphasized the need for people to get vaccinated.
“As a doctor primarily seeing Black and Latino patients, I want them to be informed and make the decision to get vaccinated based on the facts,” Dixon said. “I tell my patients that the vaccine is the best way to stay healthy and safe. I also want them to know that they can get the vaccination no matter their immigration status.”
At many of the community sites, you do not need an appointment.
“The county has really stepped up the number of mobile vaccination sites available,” Dixon said. “Recently, there have been 237 sites where county mobile teams will be offering vaccinations concentrated in higher-need, harder hit areas. This is the highest number of sites we’ve made available in a one-week period to date.”
Many sites, including the county sites, are open on weekends and during the evening.
“To help make it as simple as possible to find a vaccine, the Los Angeles County “How to Get Vaccinated” webpage, which is available in English and Spanish, now allows people to search for a vaccine by zip code, vaccine type, hours and location type,” Dixon said. “You can also search for locations where an appointment is not needed. All sites in L.A. County, including pop-up and mobile sites, are now listed on the webpage.”
To access the site, visit VaccinateLACounty.com and click “How to Get Vaccinated,” or contact the county call center at (833) 540-0473 for assistance.
Marie Y. Lemelle, is the founder of www.platinumstarpr.com and a film producer. She can be reached at MarieLemelle@platinumstarpr.com. Follow her on Instagram @platinumstarpr.