LOS ANGELES – In a major policy shift, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis Monday signed an executive order making COVID-19 vaccines available to residents aged 65 and older, despite health officials’ desire to finish inoculating medical workers amid a limited supply of medication.
Solis’ order will make the vaccines available to people aged 65 and older beginning Thursday, Jan. 21. The move is in line with revised guidance released earlier this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who authorized local jurisdictions to expand the vaccination program to older residents earlier than expected in the vaccination process.
“Over the past several weeks, the County of Los Angeles has administered the vaccine to front-line health care workers, so that they can stay safe while doing the important work of saving lives, and residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities,” Solis said in a statement. “The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been an enormous undertaking, especially during an unprecedented surge where cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to skyrocket. However, if we are to ever get out of this dark winter, it is critical that we make headway vaccinating people 65 years of age and older as soon as possible — in line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recommendations.”
When Newsom announced the change in vaccination policy last week, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county would not offer vaccines to people 65 and older until vaccinations of front-line health care workers were completed. That process was expected to last until the end of the month. Ferrer noted that expanding the availability of the shots was largely dependent on the local supply of vaccines.
There was no immediate word on what impact Solis’ order would have on the county’s vaccine supply, and its ability to complete vaccinations of health care workers. Supply of the vaccine is already limited, particularly following word last week that a federal stockpile of doses had already vanished. Further complicating matters was an order from the state’s epidemiologist late Sunday, warning providers to stop administering doses from a batch of 330,000 Moderna vaccines in response to allergic reactions suffered by a handful of people in San Diego.
The affected Moderna vaccines were distributed to 287 locations across California. It was unclear if any of those locations were in Los Angeles County. No other significant issues with allergic reactions have occurred at any other location where the affected lot was distributed, beyond the isolated problem in San Diego.