Los Angeles County supervisors discuss plans for COVID-19 vaccination expansion

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
LA County supervisors address vaccination efforts
In this episode of Eyewitness Newsmakers, the members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are providing updates on the county's COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in a few weeks.

The chair of the county Board of Supervisors, Hilda Solis, described the next sectors that will be eligible which include education and childcare workers: "But my understanding is that in about two or three weeks, we're going to be able to go to the next tier, and that will be those first responders, that'll be grocery clerks, teachers, and other essential workers," she said, adding, "And we'll still continue to kind of go through a process of making sure that we're as equitable as possible."

There was anger and confusion when Los Angeles vaccine sites ran out of doses last week. The county supervisors want to get the supplies into vulnerable communities.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell said, "I want people to understand the equitable distribution of the vaccine is the bigger issue from my perspective than vaccine hesitancy. We're talking about it with the African-American and Latinx community. We acknowledge that there are some historical reasons why people have some concerns about the health-care industry. And so many leaders in these communities are addressing that. But equitable distribution is really the issue that gives us the greatest concern."

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl added, "I actually feel optimistic that the numbers of doses are going to go up over this next week, and the weeks to follow. Because when our case numbers go down, we're allowed to expand those groups that can get the shots to our frontline workers. And we're really pushing to get more and more doses into all the counties based on population. We're a quarter of the state. So I'm optimistic that doses will go up and we'll be able to fulfill all of our responsibilities for first and second doses."

While vaccines for teachers are a priority for school reopening, the supervisors have different opinions if vaccines are a necessity.

Supervisor Janice Hahn said, "A lot of people think the reopening of the economy depends on getting our schools reopened. So I think we're working towards that. We're going to begin vaccinating our teachers in the next couple of weeks. And I think when we can get our teachers vaccinated, then I think school reopening will be a lot quicker."

"The kids have been out of school for 11 months," said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. "It's time for us to get the kids back into the classrooms. Even if it means a hybrid way of doing that, the state must lift restrictions and provide ways for schools to reopen safely. I've talked to school districts in my area, that are saying they have a plan in place, with or without the vaccine. They can ensure that not only are the students safe, but also the teachers and the administrators going on to campus."

The supervisors also discussed homelessness, new housing plans with Project Room Key and Home Key, as well as mental health and substance abuse.

The five county supervisors are five women who run the most powerful local governmental body in the country. Said board Chair Solis, "It's about history. It's about her story. It's about women who are talented people who have paid their dues and are now there, and we reflect the diversity of the county of Los Angeles."