Limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Los Angeles County negatively impacts seniors

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Illustration credit: Sophia Evans/Chronicle

Tanisha Gunby and Natalie Cosgrove

Citizens 65 and older in the Los Angeles County district are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as of Jan. 14. However, only 850,000 vaccine doses were delivered, when more than four million are needed for individuals in the first tiers, including healthcare workers and senior citizens, ABC 7 Eyewitness News reported. In Phase 1, there are three sub-phases: “A”, “B” and “C”. Phase 1A is comprised of healthcare workers, and Phase 1B is composed of senior citizens and teachers. Students are in Phase 2.

Officials in Los Angeles County are working with various federal and state partners to obtain more vaccines due to the scarcity of vaccination supply, according to the Los Angeles County Government website.

Clinics and hospitals, including the University of California Los Angeles Health (UCLA), St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Inc., in South Los Angeles, El Camino College Vaccine Clinic and East Valley Community Health Center, are offering the Moderna vaccine. Some Ralphs, Rite Aid and Vons stores are giving inoculations, too.

Seniors attempting to get vaccinated faced various obstacles, such as difficulty booking vaccine appointments and long wait times.

Performing Arts Teacher Ted Walch recently went to Cedars-Sinai Hospital to receive the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

“They weren’t able to give us an exact appointment time, so there was a fair amount of waiting,” Walch said. “I stood in line for maybe an hour, which is no big deal, and then it went very efficiently.”

There have been technical difficulties with PreMod, one of the official vaccination booking sites. According to the Los Angeles Times, these difficulties affected people’s ability to register for online appointments and hindered testing registration last year, leading to faulty infection rate data.

Although some students said their grandparents found it difficult to receive the vaccine, others said their grandparents’ living situation facilitated easier vaccination.

Mohona Ganguly ’21 said both of her grandparents are looking forward to getting immunized to COVID-19 through the vaccine.

“They plan to receive the vaccine from their own health facility or Dodger Stadium,” Ganguly said. “However, it has been quite difficult for them to receive the vaccine because the vaccination appointments are rapidly filling up.”

On the other hand, Emery Genga ’21 said her grandmother easily received the vaccine because she lives in a senior home.

“The assisted living home she stays at has begun administering the shot to residents, so [it has been] very easy,” Genga said.

Some seniors’ families initially expressed concern about the safety of the vaccine.

Natalie Ayeni ’21 said that when her grandparents first planned to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, her family was concerned about the various potential adverse effects associated with the vaccine.

“Initially there was worry that the vaccine could interact with certain medications, but not out of fear of the vaccine overall,” Ayeni said.

After having someone in her family receive the doses, Genga said her family trusts the safety of the vaccine.

“[My family has] a lot of faith in all of the hard work and research that has been put into perfecting the vaccine, as well as making it safe,” Genga said.

Ayeni said she feels grateful that seniors are in the first tier, following the initial rollout to frontline health workers, because they are at higher risk of COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality.

“We live with a family member that could be easily affected by [COVID-19], so we’re quite happy that the most vulnerable members of the community can be protected,” Ayeni said.