Pandemic: LA County health officials look to target vulnerable populations for COVID vaccine

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday said they plan to make targeted efforts in coming weeks to vaccinate vulnerable residents for the coronavirus.

"We're going to be opening more community vaccination sites in hard-hit communities,'' L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at an online news conference. "We're going to have our mobile teams go out to where people who are older may be residing and have limited ability to get to appointments at some of the other sites."

Vaccinations are still limited in the county to staff and residents of long-term or skilled nursing facilities, health care workers, and people over the age of 65.

Ferrer described the county's plan to target seniors in that age group who may be more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19, such as those with underlying health conditions, work in places that could expose them to the coronavirus, the homeless and people who live in underserved communities.

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"We're going to be working with pharmacies, health care and clinics to reach out to their high-risk older patients to make sure that we're getting them in to get vaccinated," Ferrer said.

She noted that so far more than 1 million people have been vaccinated in the county, and that at least 80% of vaccine doses received by the county have been administered within five days.

Meanwhile, ineligible people have continued trying to jump the line for the vaccine, an issue that officials continue to address.

"There was a letter that was just sort of a generic letter, it had nobody's name on it. Lots of people were Xeroxing it, frankly, lots of people were using it inappropriately to claim they were in fact the health caretakers" of their disabled children, Ferrer said. "I feel so bad about this, but there are literally hundreds of people every day that come to our (vaccination) sites that are not really in an eligible group, and some of these folks have gone to great lengths to establish eligibility when they're taking appointments from people who rightfully are eligible."

She said parents who are the certified caregivers for their children will be able to get vaccinated after providing verification.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Cal State University Los Angeles will host one of the state's two newest mass-vaccination sites for COVID-19, where officials expect to administer thousands of shots each day.

The new sites are part of an effort to establish 100 vaccination supersites nationwide in President Biden administration's first 100 days. They will be co-run by FEMA and Cal Office of Emergency Services.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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