Vaccinations moving slow in LA County, but officials say pace exceeds other large US counties

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While the pace of administering COVID-19 vaccines has been dragging due to limited supplies, Los Angeles County health officials insist the county is exceeding the progress of other large jurisdictions and is getting doses into people's arms as quickly as possible.

"Although our doses are limited, we have immunized so many amongst the most vulnerable of our communities," county Supervisor Hilda Solis said Monday. "In fact, Los Angeles County has been able to vaccinate a higher percentage of our population than Cook County (Illinois) and Harris County (Texas), which are the second and third more populous counties in America, right after Los Angeles County."

Solis said that as of late January, 7.9% of people in Los Angeles County had received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and the county had administered 79.8% of its supply.

According to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, the county as of last week had received 991,375 doses of the vaccination, and 790,902 shots had been administered.

"L.A. County has administered more doses to date than any other large county or large city in the United States, and we have the highest percent administration rate,'' Ferrer said.

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VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

She acknowledged, however, that the limited availability of vaccine has dramatically slowed the overall effort. The county's weekly allocations have varied greatly, but have been averaging around 140,000 doses. And of late, much of the new vaccine supply being received each week must be reserved to provide second doses to people who have already had the first shot.

Ferrer noted that more than 85,000 appointments at county vaccination sites have been reserved through Feb. 19 for second doses.

"The biggest challenge remains not having enough vaccine for all of those eligible to be vaccinated," she said. "We are hopeful that by March there is increased production and supply across the county, the state and L.A.''

Meanwhile, a little more than half of the firefighters with the Los Angeles Fire Department have been vaccinated, though the department has procured enough for nearly all its personnel.

Of the department's approximately 3,400 firefighters, 1,842 have received the voluntary vaccine, according to the department.

The city announced on Dec. 28 that the Los Angeles Fire Department had received 3,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough to vaccinate "virtually everybody" at the fire department, Mayor Eric Garcetti said then.

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City News Service contributed to this report.
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