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80% of L.A. County residents 16 or older could be vaccinated by June — if supplies hold up

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine
Chief medical officer Dr. Stephanie White, center, watches medical student Pierre Tran administer a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at the Western University of Health Sciences on Saturday in Pomona.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Four out of five eligible Angelenos could be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of June, assuming a sufficient number of doses flows into Los Angeles County, a top health official said this week.

“Reaching such a milestone is possible with increased allocations, and it would dramatically change the trajectory of the pandemic here in L.A. County,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a briefing Wednesday.

And officials do project supplies will swell significantly over the next month.

This week, the total number of doses flowing into L.A. — a pipeline that includes direct allocations to pharmacies, health clinics and federally managed sites — is around 500,000. By the end of April, Ferrer said, the hope is that the weekly haul is around 700,000 doses.

“If L.A. County receives, on average, 576,000 doses a week starting in April, we can expect to reach 80% vaccine coverage for people 16 and older in just 12 more weeks,” she said.

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As of Saturday, more than 4 million vaccine doses had been administered countywide — including 1.3 million second doses.

Two of the currently available vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, require two doses administered weeks apart. A third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, entails only one shot.

Rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been slowed by production issues, and the company said late Wednesday that a batch of vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used.

The drugmaker didn’t say how many doses were lost, and it wasn’t clear how the problem would impact future deliveries.

Also unknown at this point is how, or whether, the issue will interfere with L.A. County’s timeline.

“We rely so heavily on having increased production and, like with everything in life, there can be problems and challenges that are unanticipated and we’ll have to adjust for that,” Ferrer said.

She said that in L.A. County, officials were “anticipating that about 20% of our doses over the next three months would be Johnson & Johnson doses, but we actually have run projections dropping that number to a low of 10%.”

“So we’ll go back, we’ll take a look at our numbers,” she said.

Starting Thursday, California is opening the vaccination queue to all those ages 50-64. Seniors were already eligible.

L.A. County health officials believe about 631,000 residents who fall within the newly eligible age range have already received at least one vaccine dose — either because of the field in which they work or because they have a qualifying health condition. But that still leaves 1.4 million similarly aged individuals who have yet to begin their inoculation regimen.

On April 15, Californians ages 16-49 will also be able to roll up their sleeves. In L.A. County, almost 3.9 million people in this age group have yet to be vaccinated.

Given the glut of people still needing their shots, Ferrer preached patience — pleading that “our promise is to just continue to push out vaccine as quickly as we get it to everyone who’s eligible.”

“One of the heartaches that people expressed to us was just the not knowing ‘when it will be my turn and how long I have to wait,’” she said. “I think we all have a pretty good sense now that, over the next two to three months, we’re going to be able to get everybody vaccinated in L.A. County.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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