Given the shortage of coronavirus vaccination doses, Los Angeles will temporarily close five of its Dodger Stadium vaccination sites, including one of the largest in the country, raising new questions about the federal government’s handling of supplies and distribution.
By Thursday, the city will have used up its supply of Moderna vaccines for first-dose appointments, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference. The centers will be closed on Friday and Saturday and are slated to reopen by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, he said.
“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials arrive here in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti. “As your Mayor, I am concerned that our vaccine supply is uneven, unpredictable and, too often, unfair.”
Given the limited supply and logistical hurdles, the United States has endeavored to launch a mass vaccination campaign. President Biden has promised to administer 100 million vaccines by the time he takes office on April 30, 100 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that around 33.8 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including around 10.5 million people who were fully vaccinated.
The federal government has released approximately 66 million cans to states, territories, and federal agencies, many of which are reserved for second doses. State and federal officials have come under fire for their handling of vaccines as demand far exceeds supply and health care providers struggle to predict how many doses they might receive.
According to CDC data, about 10 percent of Californians have received a vaccine.
The city-operated Dodger Stadium opened on January 15 and vaccinated more than 85,000 people in the first two weeks, despite waiting times that could sometimes be hours. Administrators have cut waiting times, and the site averaged over 6,000 recordings a day last week, far more than any of the other sites in the city.
Mr Garcetti said Los Angeles only received 16,000 new doses of the vaccine this week. As of December, California faced a dramatic increase in virus cases, concentrated in the southern portion of the state and its main agricultural region, the Central Valley, as well as the spread of a new local strain that may be more transmissible.
California now leads the nation in cases and deaths. Infections peaked during the holidays and have been going down since mid-January, but deaths remain at record highs.
Mr Garcetti said hospital stays in Los Angeles fell to about 3,700 on Wednesday, the lowest number in months.
Despite concerns about the shortage, the city will continue its mobile vaccination program, Garcetti said. “We can’t afford to see the outbreaks and, quite frankly, the unequal deaths that we see in color communities,” he said.