Public sites that have been giving COVID-19 tests to thousands of Los Angeles residents since April are gearing up to give COVID-19 vaccines, the company that helps run the sites--Curative--tells the NBC4 I-Team.
Curative says it plans to make it easy and free for people to get a vaccine, hopefully in the early months of 2021.
"People know where to go, they know where their community test sites are, and so, they know the drill," says Curative's General Manager for California Operations Agatha Bacelar.
Curative has already been administering the flu vaccine to people, along with COVID tests, at one of its LA area sites--at the Hansen Dam Recreation Center. The company plans to use that same model to give COVID-19 vaccines at most of its other eight LA public test sites, such as Dodger Stadium, as well as at some mobile sites.
"This is a practice run for when a COVID vaccine is made available, early next year," Bacelar said.
People will be able to easily book appointments for COVID-19 vaccines online, using the same platforms now in use for COVID tests, according to Bacelar.
COVID-19 vaccines will also be offered through a partnership between the federal government and private retail companies, including Albertsons and its subsidiaries which includes Pavilions and Vons supermarkets.
Albertsons says it is well positioned to give consumers the COVID-19 vaccine since its pharmacists already administer other vaccines, including flu shots.
"We want to vaccinate as many people as are eligible and are willing to get the vaccine because this is our biggest weapon in stopping this pandemic," Albertsons District Pharmacy Manager Will Henning told the I-Team.
But retail chains and public sites like those in LA still have some hurdles to figure out before they can give COVID-19 vaccines.
The sites will have to have software to track who gets vaccinated and develop a system to notify them to come back for a second dose, which most vaccines will require.
And at least one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccines, the one made by Pfizer, will need to be stored in special freezers at minus 94 degrees.
"That's something we have to figure out," Bacelar said.
She said that Curative has a fleet of mobile vans with specialized refrigeration that might be able to deliver doses of the vaccine to test sites at the proper temperature.
"Mobile vans could be a way to deliver the COVID vaccines. If not, we would need electricity on site, or generators that would be able to power these freezers for the vaccine," Bacelar added.
She said Curative hopes to start giving thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccines at LA city test sites by early next year.