LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As Dodger Stadium this week is converted from a COVID-19 testing site to a mass vaccination center, the slow rollout of the program was still under scrutiny.
“Given the new variant of the virus, we’re really running against the clock,” Dr. Karin Michels, who chairs UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology, said. “We’re running out of time. We must speed up.”
Michels said the United States has a lot of vaccines that have yet to be administered and said the rollout would have been better if mass vaccination sites had been set up earlier.
“Many countries in Europe have vaccination centers and have the personnel in the centers,” she said. “They have the opposite problem. They don’t have enough vaccines.”
The first phase of inoculation has mostly been done at local hospitals, where space is scarce and staff is overwhelmed with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
“Most of the hospital personnel is really tied up with the patients,” Michels said. “So we don’t have any extra personnel in the hospitals to provide the vaccines.”
But in Long Beach, which has a population similar to Atlanta, a drive-thru site has already been set up for the second phase of vaccination to begin later this week by appointment only.
Emergency workers, such as police officers and dispatchers, can get vaccinated on Thursday. Residents 75 and older, grocery store workers and those in education can get vaccinated on Saturday.
“We are working with our HR department, our occupational health department as well as the heads of the organizations to make sure that we’ve got everybody lined up,” Kelly Colopy, director of the city’s Health and Human Services, said.
Also on Tuesday, California’s Secretary of Health of Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said that the large-scale sites have an added benefit.
“Mass vaccine sites will certainly help us consolidate where people are getting vaccinated, allow people to have a little bit more familiar knowledge of where they might get vaccinated and, yes, help to make sure that we have less potential for waste,” he said.
Large sites like sports arenas and convention centers are also able to provide plenty of space for waiting areas to ensure those who receive the vaccine do not suffer any serious side effects.