California’s two U.S. senators have added their voices to those calling for a continuation of COVID-19 vaccinations at Cal State Los Angeles, a site the federal government plans to shut down on April 11.
The vaccination site opened in February as an eight-week pilot project by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. More than 200,000 doses have been administered at the site.
With the pilot project coming to an end, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla sent a joint letter to acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton on Tuesday calling on the agency to work with local officials to ensure the site, and another similar operation in Oakland, “can continue to administer vaccinations and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“In particular, we ask that you provide the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the counties of Alameda and Los Angeles with financial and logistical support so they can take over operations, and that the federal government continues to send the sites direct shipments of vaccine doses,” the letter states.
As a federally operated site, the doses allocated the location are on top of the vaccine supply provided to the county each week, making it a critical operation, particularly with vaccine eligibility expanding to all residents 50 and over on Thursday and to everyone 16 and over on April 15.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday discussions are continuing about ways to continue the operation.
“We’re working with our partners at the city and the state to try to make sure that we’re able to continue to have the capacity that that site offered, either by continuing to offer vaccination services at that site or being able to increase capacity at some of the nearby sites that serve populations from those neighborhoods,” Ferrer said.
Dr. Paul Simon, the county’s chief science officer, said last week the county could take over the site, or possibly the city of Los Angeles or another vaccine provider. The large site could also be broken into some “smaller community sites,” he said.
“We recognize it’s a really important site,” Simon said. “We in no way want to scale back vaccination infrastructure. We’re fairly confident we’re going to be getting increased supplies of vaccine and so we want to be well-prepared to deliver it swiftly.”