LA County Prepares to Expand Eligibility for COVID Vaccines to More Groups, Including Teachers, in March – NBC Los Angeles

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With thousands and thousands extra folks turning into eligible COVID-19 vaccinations in the approaching weeks however provides of the drugs remaining restricted, Southern California is going through a “difficult month” meeting demand in March, the county’s public well being director mentioned Wednesday, however she predicted rosier situations by April.

Barbara Ferrer shared figures exhibiting that vaccination websites in the county are administering doses at a fraction of their total capability due to continued shortages in provides of vaccine. The result’s a system that makes extraordinarily troublesome for eligible residents — well being care employees and other people aged 65 and older — to make appointments for pictures, with demand far exceeding provide.

And the state of affairs will dramatically worsen beginning March 1, when the county will open eligibility to an array of important employees — training/youngster care employees, together with academics and faculty workers; meals and agricultural employees; and emergency providers/regulation enforcement personnel. Ferrer mentioned these teams at the moment are estimated to embrace 1.8 million folks in the county.

The state has additionally directed suppliers to make pictures accessible starting March 15 to anyone aged 16 and older with a qualifying underlying well being situation that places them at important threat of extreme sickness or demise from COVID.

“We are going to have a difficult month, probably, in March,” Ferrer said. “But I actually do suppose the state of affairs will change in April. So sure, very large constraints proper now with vaccine provide.”

She pointed to quite a lot of components for optimism about improved vaccine provide as early as April, crediting President Joe Biden with accelerating the tempo of vaccine purchases and noting that vaccine producers Pfizer and Moderna have mentioned they “have been ready to reduce their manufacturing instances down, which simply means they’re going to have extra doses out faster.” And a 3rd producer, Johnson & Johnson, may have federal approval by the top of the month to distribute its single-dose vaccine.

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“So I think it is safe to say, barring some unforeseen calamity, we will have much more vaccine available by April,” Ferrer mentioned.

But in the meantime, provide will stay low, and Ferrer mentioned the present county allocation “doesn’t come shut to permitting us to obtain herd immunity this spring,” that means continued well being restrictions.

“With the fact that we have now extra infectious variants circulating in the state and our county … it is by no means been extra essential for every of us to preserve distance and put on a masks at any time when we’re out of our properties and round folks we do not reside with,” she mentioned.

Ferrer mentioned one other 4 instances of the coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom have been discovered in Los Angeles County, elevating the native complete to 12. The variant shouldn’t be thought-about extra harmful, however it’s extra simply unfold from individual to individual. Ferrer mentioned there are doubtless much more instances of the variant current in the county, however they have not been detected due to the restricted quantity of gene sequencing that is wanted to detect them.

Overall, the county’s COVID-19 state of affairs continues to enhance, with common each day case numbers down 85% from earlier January, common hospitalizations down 61% and common each day deaths down 91%.

“The decreases that we see are meaningful and they’re all good news, but the numbers still remain higher than the numbers we saw back in autumn,” Ferrer mentioned. “These numbers continuing to decrease is not a given. This will only continue if we’re all in the game and we’re all continuing to use the tools we have at hand.”

The county reported one other 162 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, elevating the general demise toll in the county to 19,368.

Another 2,394 instances had been confirmed, lifting the cumulative complete from all through the pandemic to 1,171,664.

According to state figures, the variety of folks hospitalized due to COVID in the county dropped to 2,757 as of Wednesday, with 859 folks in intensive care. That’s an enormous drop from the 8,000 hospital instances reported in early January.

Ferrer mentioned regardless of the improved numbers, well being officers “remain concerned that actions of Super Bowl weekend and this past holiday weekend could lead to another increase in cases that we would start to see next week if individuals were not taking precautions.”

Those considerations are doubtless contributing to continued restrictions on outside eating operations, most notably the rule barring eateries from turning on tv units on patios, stopping gatherings of sports activities followers. Ferrer mentioned the county can be reviewing case numbers over the approaching weeks earlier than reevaluating the restriction.