A massive COVID-19 vaccination site on the campus of Cal State L.A. that was slated for possible closure next month will stay open with the help of the city of Los Angeles, officials said Thursday.
The Cal State L.A. site was one of the first two sites in the country to be run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Federal and state officials said last week that they planned to leave the campus site April 11 after an eight-week trial run, projecting that they would administer about 300,000 doses.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the city of Los Angeles will begin running the Cal State L.A. site by April 12. The site will join several others run by city officials, including the mega-vaccination site at Dodger Stadium and clinics at USC, Hansen Dam and Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley.
“The mayor has taken the baton without hesitation,” Newsom said.
Los Angeles will also continue operating the pop-up clinics that have been supplied and coordinated by the Cal State L.A. site, Newsom said. Those clinics have administered more than 25,000 doses at local churches, malls and community centers in areas of East L.A. and South L.A. hit hardest by the pandemic.
“As a city, we couldn’t be more proud or more ready to get the job done,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a press conference at a vaccination site at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, one of the mobile clinics operated by the Cal State L.A. site.
The Cal State L.A. site and a sister location at the Oakland Coliseum helped boost California’s vaccination rate because their supply of doses came directly from the federal government, rather than from the state’s limited allocation. The sites outpaced their initial expectation of each administering 6,000 vaccines per day and were able to hit 7,500 per day on a regular basis, officials said.
How many doses the Cal State L.A. site will receive once FEMA leaves is still unclear. Officials said they are pushing the federal government to continue supplying the site with its own doses, separate from those that are divvied up among all of California’s local health departments.
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla echoed that request this week in a letter to acting FEMA administrator Bob Fenton.
“We’re working with the Biden administration to talk about allocations,” Newsom said. But, he added, if California had to begin supplying the sites, it would be doable: Of the 18 million vaccine doses California has put in arms, fewer than 4% of the state’s “entire delivery system” were administered at the two FEMA sites, he said.
“It’s not profound in terms of its impact, but it is an impact nonetheless,” Newsom said. “We try to get every dose we possibly can.”
The site has a drive-through option and accommodates walk-up appointments, and operates a shuttle from a nearby transit stop.
Starting April 1, patients who visit the site for their first dose will receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a decision made by federal and state officials to ensure that everyone who visits the site will be fully inoculated by the time FEMA and CalOES leave, officials said last week.