The number of COVID-19 vaccination sites in Los Angeles County keep growing, with a new mega vaccination site coming to Cal State Los Angeles (CSULA) as early as next week, but not one of these is centrally located in Boyle Heights or East LA – the Eastside Latino neighborhoods hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state has entered into the federal COVID-19 Pharmacy Partnership, which includes two national chains, but it was not immediately clear if any of the 19 new vaccination sites across would be in Boyle Heights or unincorporated East Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County currently has 365 COVID-19 vaccination sites and as of Monday over one million vaccines had been given to health care workers and seniors over the age of 65 and older. The pandemic so far has claimed over 18,000 lives in the county alone, and the number of COVID-19 cases have surpassed one million.
Latino neighborhoods, filled with high numbers of essential workers, have been pummeled. According to public health officials in LA County, COVID-related deaths among Latinos went up by almost 1,000% from November to late January.
“We need more vaccinations and we need more vaccination sites,” said California Senator Maria Elena Durazo in a written statement.
Durazo, whose 24th district includes Boyle Heights, City Terrace and Unincorporated East LA, notes that the opening of the Cal State LA vaccination site coupled with national retail pharmacies beginning to distribute vaccines “is reason for hope.”
The scarcity of the vaccine and variable quantities LA County receives changes from week to week. Appointment availability reflects this instability. This week second dose vaccination took priority, making it less possible for people seeking the first dose to book an appointment.
“That really bothers me, when you look at the map and all dots that show the vaccination sites and they’re not in East LA. There’s just not a single one in unincorporated East LA and I couldn’t believe that because it’s one of the hardest hit communities.”Manuel Ponce/Son of East LA residents
Manuel Ponce, a Garfield High School alumnus whose family still lives in the area, has spent weeks poring over the LA County Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine appointment website. With his help, his parents were able to get vaccinated at Lincoln Park and other relatives were vaccinated at the Dodger Stadium’s drive-up site.
“That really bothers me, when you look at the map and all dots that show the vaccination sites and they’re not in East LA,” Ponce said. “There’s just not a single one in unincorporated East LA and I couldn’t believe that because it’s one of the hardest hit communities.”
Modern technology is an obstacle for many seniors but making an appointment over the phone isn’t necessarily easier. Some people have spent hours waiting on hold. Others are less proactive.
Pedro Guzmán, a 67-year-old Boyle Heights resident, doesn’t have adult children in the U.S. to help him navigate the healthcare system. He’s lost friends to COVID-19 and wants to get vaccinated but he doesn’t know where to go or how to get started, he said.
“The inequities we saw with respect to cases, hospitalizations and death have been reflected so far in the vaccine administration. This is completely unacceptable…,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solís said on Monday.
Solís visited Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center last weekend and said she witnessed hundreds of patients 65 and older get vaccinated. They were accompanied by Community Health Navigators, known as promotoras, who helped with referrals to wrap around services.
“The goal is to eventually have vaccination sites everywhere from schools to community centers, trusted service providers based in people’s neighborhoods.”Supervisor Hilda Solís
“And although the vaccine efforts are not moving as fast as everyone would like, there have been major improvements state wide,” she said at Monday’s COVID-19 virtual briefing. “The goal is to eventually have vaccination sites everywhere from schools to community centers, trusted service providers based in people’s neighborhoods.”
Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero in Boyle Heights had a one-day event last weekend for their patients ages 75 and older. The clinic had 100 Moderna vaccines but only dispensed 50 because they needed to hold onto the other half for the second dose.
Two elderly couples without appointments had to be turned away, according to Clínica Romero spokesperson Evelyn G. Aleman, who described it as heart breaking for everyone. Clínica administrators hope to offer more vaccination clinics in the near future as more vaccines become available but with 12,000 patients between their two locations, vaccination will not be open to the general public.
According to the Department of Public Health, there are plans to have regular vaccination clinics, known as Points of Dispensing (PODs), in Boyle Heights but the list is still being decided. Some of the sites could include Clínica Romero, Los Angeles Christian Health Centers, White Memorial Medical Center and Keck Medical Center of USC.
For a short time, there were PODs at Hazard Park and Belvedere Park but they were closed. People who received their first vaccination there now have to go to the El Sereno Recreation Center. “The Hazard and Belvedere sites were closed because they did not provide the best fit for the needs of an outdoor vaccination site,” Public Health said in a written statement.
Officials are quick to point out that there are 14 vaccination sites on the “Eastside” – a general term that refers to communities east of Downtown Los Angeles. PODS in El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Elysian Park and Echo Park (in Northeast Los Angeles) are several miles away from Boyle Heights and unincorporated East LA.
Congressmember Lucille Roybal-Allard (40th District) supported her alma mater, Cal State LA, in being designated a vaccination center under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan which will provide $20 billion for vaccines and vaccinations across the county. She hopes the mega clinic located in El Sereno’s University Hills will help increase the number of vaccinated seniors from East and Southeast (SELA) communities.
“I am confident that this Biden vaccination center will be a game changer for our East LA and SELA communities as it will focus on addressing health equity, language access, multicultural understanding, and technological assistance for our seniors and the most vulnerable members of our community,” Roybal-Allard said in a written statement.
The Cal State LA vaccination center’s first phase will kick-off with drive-up vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday, February 16th, and run seven-days-a-week from 9 am to 7 pm for six months. The second phase will incorporate walk-up vaccinations at a separate location on campus, and the third phase will deploy at least one mobile unit to go out into the ELA and SELA communities, according to Roybal-Allard.
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes $15.5 billion to set up community vaccination clinics and mobile vaccination units. According to Roybal-Allard, LA County has provided grants to 16 community organizations for about 750 promotoras who go out into the community, door-to-door to help reach the most vulnerable members of the county to access the vaccine.
“I am confident that this Biden vaccination center will be a game changer for our East LA and SELA communities as it will focus on addressing health equity, language access, multicultural understanding, and technological assistance for our seniors and the most vulnerable members of our community,”Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard
“I am very happy to report that funding for this was made possible through $30 million in CARES Act funding, which I helped pass in Congress, and that five of the organizations that received the grants and promotoras are located in and/or service my district. The agencies include: East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Soledad Enrichment Action, Alma Family Services, Wellness Center, and Vision y Compromiso,” she said.
LA County Supervisors on Tuesday directed staff to look for transportation solutions to help seniors and others access vaccine sites, and develop mobile options to bring the vaccine to residents.
“With a county this size, offering transportation options to vaccination sites is critical,” Solis said in a written statement, acknowledging some residents in underserved communities need to take several buses to reach a mega vaccination site.
“In my view, all options are on the table to eliminate this disparity, including potentially reserving vaccine appointments to ensure those who need it most receive a dose sooner rather than later. The information and instructions on how to make a vaccination appointment have evidently not reached those who need it most,” Solis said.
Vaccination Locations Near Boyle Heights and Unincorporated East LA
Call the LA County Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine appointment center at 833-540-0470 or registering online at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/hcwsignup/
Rite Aid Pharmacy Appointment Website https://www.riteaid.com/pharmacy/covid-qualifier
Ralphs Appointment Website https://www.ralphs.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated
El Sereno Recreation Center, 4721 Klamath St, Los Angeles, CA 90032 (Moderna)
Cal State Los Angeles, opening Feb. 16
Lincoln Park Clinic, 3501 Valley Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90031 (Moderna)
St. John’s Well Child and Family, 2515 Alta St., Los Angeles, CA 90031 (Pfizer)
Rite Aid Pharmacy #5440, 111 East Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90031 (Moderna)
Rite Aid Pharmacy #5430, 446 East Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015 (Moderna)
Rite Aid Pharmacy #5429, 500 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Moderna)
Ralphs Pharmacy #22, 645 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (Moderna)
Rite Aid Pharmacy #5597, 2150 South Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754 (Moderna)
Rite Aid Pharmacy #5504, 802 Beverly Blvd., Montebello, CA, 90640 (Moderna)
No walk-ups are accommodated at any of these locations.
Information last updated: 2/11/20121