As the global death toll from coronavirus surpasses 2 million, Los Angeles faces the daunting and life-or-death problem of being the nation’s largest COVID-19 hotspot.
In California’s most populous county, Los Angeles is approaching the 1 million case mark, with 10 people on average testing positive every minute. County public data also reports that every six minutes, someone dies from COVID-19.
This leaves many wondering when they can get doses of the every scarce vaccine in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles released a vaccine schedule, putting everyone from health care workers to essential workers to those 65 and older in tiers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced Jan. 13 that all seniors 65 and older qualified to get a vaccine, putting them higher up on the list. LA County Health officials initially said seniors won’t get vaccine access until all health care workers with direct contact get or are offered vaccines, but an executive order was signed Jan. 18 by county supervisors to expand vaccinations to people 65 and older.
The county set up a registration page with information for people in that group. Those who cannot register online can call 833-540--0473.
Elsewhere in Southern California, in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, those 65 and older have been getting vaccinated since the announcement. LA and Ventura counties say they need to focus on other groups first before bringing in seniors. Despite other counties making seniors eligible, there have been issues with getting appointments.
The state also announced Feb. 12 that beginning March 15, vaccines could be given to people 16 and older suffering from medical conditions or developmental disabilities making them susceptible to severe illness or death from the virus.
That list includes:
- chronic kidney disease;
- chronic pulmonary disease;
- Down syndrome;
- weakened immune system from solid organ transplant;
- sickle cell disease;
- heart conditions;
- severe obesity
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Each county is working on a system to allow people to sign up, contributing to the rush or information, and confusion.
With limited doses of the vaccine -- LA County’s public health director said there just weren’t enough so far -- so who gets a vaccine and when?
Here’s how the schedule breaks down, and note the timeline estimates of when each group can get vaccinated all depends on state prioritization requirements.
Phase 1A — Now Through Early February
Phase 1A is open health care workers who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients, LA County says.
This means that “low-risk” health care workers, like administrative staff who do not have contact with patients, are lower on the list.
When should everyone be offered a vaccine in Phase 1A?
Everyone in Phase 1A is expected to be vaccinated or offered a vaccine by late January or early February.
Who is in Phase 1A?
- Healthcare workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities
- Healthcare workers and residents of other long-term care facilities. This group includes facilities that care for older or disabled adults, like assisted living facilities.
And health care workers in:
- Acute care hospitals
- Acute psychiatric hospitals
- Correctional facility hospitals
- Dialysis centers
- Emergency medical services, including EMTs and Paramedics
- Infusion/oncology centers
- Residential and inpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities
- Residential and inpatient mental health facilities
Health care Workers in:
- Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) contracted Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTP) and Transitional Shelter Care Program Facilities (TSCF)
- Department of Mental Health
- Home healthcare organizations and home health agencies (in-home supportive service personnel)
- Intermediate care facilities (for persons who need non-continuous nursing supervision and supportive care)
- Outpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, mental health facilities, and crisis stabilization units
- Public Health field staff who have face to face contact with patients/public (e.g. during testing, contact tracing, outbreak investigations)
- Primary care clinics, including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, and correctional facility clinics
- Urgent care clinics
- Office of Diversion and Re-entry (ODR)
- Medical shelters
- Sheltered and Unsheltered settings who are providing direct clinical care for people experiencing homelessness
- Field-based community health workers, including promotoras (including those involved with testing, contact tracing, or supportive services to persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19)
- Regional Centers
- Outreach workers who have face-to-face contact with people experiencing homelessness
Health care workers who qualify as:
- COVID-19 Testing
- Death Care (mortuaries)
- Dental and Other Oral Health Clinics
- Occupational Health
- Optometry Clinics
- Pharmacies (if not working in settings at higher tiers)
- Physical Therapists/Occupational Therapists (if not working in settings at higher tiers)
- School and University Health Centers
- Specialty Clinics
- Speech Therapists
- Surgery Centers
Phase 1B — Early February Through Late March
People 65 and older are eligible for vaccines if they can get an appointment through the county's website here.
The others listed in Phase 1B are not yet allowed to get vaccinations.
However, Los Angeles County said it will offer COVID-19 vaccines for the following workers on March 1, depending on supplies.
- Food and agriculture
- Education and childcare
- Emergency services and first responders
When can people in 1B get vaccinated?
The timeline is looking like early February. By late March, everyone in 1B should be offered at least one dose of the vaccine, LA County estimates.
1B Tier 1
- Persons 65 years and older
And those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
- Emergency services
- Food and agriculture
1B Tier 2
Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
- Transportation and logistics
- Industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services
- Critical manufacturing
- Congregate settings with outbreak risk: incarcerated and homeless
Phase 1C — March Through Early May
Those in Phase 1C are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
When can people in Phase 1C get the vaccine?
The estimated timeline begins in March. LA County Health estimates everyone in this phase will be offered at least one dose of the vaccine by late April and early May.
Who’s in this group?
- Persons 50-64 years old
- People 16-49 years of age and have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19
- Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
- Water and wastewater
- Chemical and hazardous materials
- Communications and IT
- Financial services
- Government operations / community-based essential functions
Phase 2 — Mid-May or Early June
People listed in Phase 2 are not yet eligible for vaccines.
When can people in the Phase 2 group get vaccines?
Those in Phase 2 are estimated to be eligible by mid-May or early June.
Who is in Phase 2?
- Persons 16-49 years old without high-risk medical conditions
Find out where you stand in the vaccine line with this interactive tool.
When Could I Get the Vaccine?
Answer the questions to calculate your risk profile and see where you fall in your county's and state's vaccine lineup. This estimate is based on a combination of vaccine rollout recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group, see this methodology.
Source: the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 by Ariadne Labs and the Surgo Foundation
Interactive by Amy O’Kruk/NBC
Need to know more?
Here is an FAQ of vaccine distribution, answering everything from “how long will widespread vaccination take?” to possible side effects of taking the vaccine.
See more information from LA County here.
To learn about Orange County vaccine schedule, go here.
To learn about San Bernardino County’s vaccine schedule, go here.
To learn about Ventura County’s vaccine schedule, go here.