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L.A. County is this week expecting its largest shipment of COVID-19 vaccines yet

Los Angeles County is slated to receive its largest single-week share of COVID-19 vaccines to date — a welcome, if possibly short-lived, boost that officials say will allow tens of thousands of additional Angelenos to receive their first shot.

Swelling this week’s expected total haul of 312,000 doses is a substantial shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which federal drug regulators recently authorized for emergency use.

Officials are hopeful that vaccine will give California’s — and the nation’s — inoculation campaign a shot in the arm, as it entails only a single dose.

The other two vaccines cleared for use in the United States, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, require two shots, administered weeks apart.

L.A. County expects to receive 53,700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

Officials in the city of Los Angeles said they anticipate administering 88,000 shots this week, and most of those — nearly 68,000 — will be first doses.

“Vaccines are our ticket to ending the pandemic, saving lives, rebuilding our communities and delivering hope for a healthier future,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “We still have a long way to go to safely and swiftly vaccinate as many Angelenos as possible — and a larger, steadier supply of doses this week means we can bring relief to more seniors, frontline and essential workers, and anyone eligible to receive a vaccine in our city.”

However, this week’s boon could be a blip, a least in the near term. L.A. city officials said they aren’t likely to see any more Johnson & Johnson doses in the immediate future — rollout of that vaccine has been slowed by production issues — and they expect supplies in general will be lower over the next few weeks.

Supply pinches have been a persistent problem for health agencies across the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said California is working to design a system that can deliver 4 million vaccines a week, though shipments have yet to come close to that level.

In L.A. County, officials say they already could offer 600,000 appointment slots a week, if they had enough doses.

Amid the supply constraints, state officials have announced several significant changes aimed at ensuring available vaccines are distributed and administered as fast and fairly as possible.

Last week, the state announced that 40% of available COVID-19 vaccines will now be dedicated to residents in California’s most disadvantaged areas — a massive commitment officials say will help address glaring inequities in vaccine administration and set the stage for a wider reopening of the state’s battered economy.

The state is also pivoting to a new vaccination program run by Blue Shield of California, with the goal of creating “more efficient distribution, speed, and equity and transparency,” according to Newsom.

However, that move has been met by resistance from counties that believe the system would not be able to properly accommodate their unique needs and diverse populations.

For now, COVID-19 vaccines are available to those 65 or older, are residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or who work in education and child care, food and agriculture, healthcare, law enforcement or emergency services.

The pool of residents who can receive the shots is set to deepen considerably, though, as the state will expand eligibility to millions of people with underlying health problems and disabilities starting next week.

Over the last week, providers statewide have administered an average of 184,541 doses per day, according to data compiled by The Times.

To date, nearly 10.4 million total doses have gone into arms statewide, including more than 2.5 million in L.A. County alone.

Those numbers, while encouraging, are still well short of what’s needed to end the pandemic. As a result, officials say it remains important even for those who have been vaccinated to continue taking steps to stem coronavirus transmission — such as wearing masks in public, keeping physical distance from those they don’t live with and regularly washing their hands.

“Vaccines offer powerful protection against serious disease and death for the vaccinated person; it is not yet known if people who are vaccinated can become infected and pass the virus on to others,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

That’s not to say that being vaccinated doesn’t open the door for additional activities. Under new guidance released Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans can visit with others in small indoor gatherings, without masks or social distancing, once they’ve been fully inoculated.

“We’ve been through a lot this past year, and with more and more people getting vaccinated, each day we are starting to turn a corner,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing. “And as more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves.”

Times staff writers Chris Megerian and Melody Gutierrez contributed to this report.



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