Hilda Solis on opening up COVID vaccine program. Angelenos 65 and up can now register for shots

Written and produced by Bennet Purser

People ages 65 and up in LA County can now sign up to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They can make an appointment via the county health department’s website. Vaccinations begin on Thursday. That’s a quick reversal from last week when officials said people 65 and older wouldn’t get the vaccine until early February because health care workers still needed to be innoculated. And there are still limited doses. 

KCRW talks about this with LA County Board Chairwoman Hilda Solis. 

The need for a more cohesive vaccine rollout:

Hilda Solis: “I'm sure we're going to be able to identify where those supplies are, and then do a better job at coordinating and having a better centralized system of knowing where the doses are. And that's really what we're trying to grapple with right now, including the state as well as the county. 

… Once we start seeing more supplies coming in, we're going to need to do this. And I'm very happy and very excited that the new administration has really made this a priority, to put the force of the federal government behind all of this.”

The urgency to still follow public health orders:

“The numbers are going down in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, which is good. But that doesn't mean we relent. We still have to enforce our health orders, that people keep their distance, that they don't mix with different families, and really try to restrict their travel. All those things have to happen.

And I'm glad that Biden, the new president … he’s saying people need to wear a mask for 100 days. … We need to also take that leadership and insist that we continue to do that.”

Why some health care workers are still waiting to be vaccinated:

“We did not get sufficient funding to help provide for people to help us administer the vaccine. In fact, it's kind of ironic that the very people you want to get vaccinated can't even leave sometimes because they are now understaffed at our ICU … taking care of our patients. ... And there are a lot of health care workers, many unfortunately that don't want to get vaccinated. And some, I'm sorry, we just haven't gotten to all the other tiers. But I'm certain we will for those who want it.”

Developing the workforce needed to vaccinate the general public:

“There's going to be a lot of training going on. And I believe even organizations like CORE, Sean Penn's group … they've been helping us do the COVID testing, the swabs. … Now we're looking at how we can get more people into the system to help us be trained so that they can inoculate. 

… We're asking for retired folks to come back ... doctors, veterinarians, dentists. A lot of people will be engaged in this, so I do believe it will be an expansive rollout and one that will grow according to each day.”