LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As Los Angeles County residents age 16 and older become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine next week, officials are expecting a dip in available doses.
The drop-off in L.A. County’s supply of single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines is the primary reason for the decreased availability.
Dr. Paul Simon, the L.A. County Public Health Department’s chief science officer, said the county’s allocations of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will increase, though not enough to bridge the gap that roughly 74,000 fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccines will create.
L.A. County’s allocation of vaccine for next week is expected to total 323,470, Simon said. The county received about 97,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, but will only receive about 20,000 next week.
However, while the decline in the county-controlled supply is concerning — and poorly timed given the upcoming eligibility expansion — there are still expected to be about 500,000 total available doses in the county, thanks to non-county or city providers who receive direct allocations from the state and federal governments.
“Taken together, we estimate that well over 500,000 doses of vaccine will be allocated to vaccination sites across the county next week,” Simon said Friday.
Simon is also confident the declining supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t be a long-term problem.
“At the pace we’re going, we will be able to get where we want to be by late June,” he said. “So I think we’ll be urging the public to be patient, but we are confident we will be able to serve everybody’s needs over the coming weeks.”
With the expanded eligibility and increased demand, Simon also urged employers to allow their workers time off to get the vaccine.
“We expect a rush for appointments in the coming weeks and employees will need as much flexibility as possible to navigate this process and get their vaccinations as soon as possible,” he said.
All Californians age 16 and older will become eligible to receive the vaccine beginning on Thursday, April 15.
As of April 4, over 4.71 million doses of vaccine have been administered in L.A. County, including 1.65 million second doses. Simon noted that number represented an increase of 702,000 over the previous nine days, meaning an average of about 78,000 doses administered daily during that span.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)