Efforts ramping up to vaccinate Black, Hispanic communities in LA County

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he anticipates the state will receive 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week during his appearance in Long Beach on Monday morning. 

Newsom said Long Beach, which has its own health department that is independent of Los Angeles County, has been a "demonstrable leader" when it comes to the vaccine rollout.

He emphasized his goal of getting students back to school for in-person instruction as soon as possible. 

On Sunday, he visited mobile vaccine sites in Inglewood and Boyle Heights to highlight the state's efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach communities against the coronavirus.  

On Sunday, Newsom said more than 7.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered statewide while acknowledging that many communities have struggled to keep up with the need for inoculations.  

RELATED: Hospitalizations going down, over 7 million vaccines administered so far in California

Newsom told FOX 11, "I don't see light at the end of the tunnel, I see bright lights!" 

He added that federal and state officials are doing all they can to vaccinate as many people as possible. "At the end of the day, there just aren't enough Pfizer vaccines, there aren't enough Moderna vaccines.

According to Newsom, the federal government was giving the state a three-week window of how many doses to expect, information that will be shared with local officials starting this week.  

His visit came as the county continues to grapple with equity issues in the distribution of vaccines among the area's Black and Latino population, and as the Southland deals with a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine driven by the destructive winter storm in other parts of the country.  

RELATED: Vaccine Finder: Cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Pasadena

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday that doses of COVID-19 vaccine delayed by the storm back east have now been shipped to Los Angeles, and all six city-run vaccination sites will resume operations on Tuesday after being closed through the weekend.  

Garcetti said appointments from Friday and Saturday will be rescheduled immediately and those people will be notified by Monday. Residents seeking further information were directed to call 213-634-3059.  

The county-run sites were unaffected by the weather-related shortage, as were the mobile pop-up sites like the ones the governor visited Sunday.  

Vaccination rates among eligible Black residents lag far behind other ethnic groups, according to data released Friday by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Black residents represented just 5.2% of all people who had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of mid-February, while 33.5% were white, 23.1% Latino/a, and 19.1% Asian.  

Only 24% of Black residents ages 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 42.8% of white residents 65 and up.  

Meanwhile, California's new system of tracking and scheduling vaccines being rolled out in 10 counties. The new system, run by Blue Shield, will be used first in Riverside, Kings, Imperial, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Fresno and Kern counties.  

Los Angeles County will be in the next group of counties to get the system, starting March 3, state officials said.  

Newsom said Friday that the state in March will begin reserving 10% of the overall supply of vaccines to be administered to teachers, as part of an effort to speed a return to in-person classes.

Newsom said to FOX 11 that he would like all teachers to be vaccinated before returning to school, but it shouldn't be a prerequisite.

He said Sunday that the teacher supply would amount to 75,000 doses per week. Health officials have been warning of a difficult month ahead in terms of access to vaccines, with the already jammed appointment system expected to get even more crowded on March 1 when essential workers such as teachers, food service workers and law enforcement become eligible for shots.

In mid-March, everyone 16 and over with a serious underlying health condition will become eligible.

FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report. 

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