Memorial vaccination clinic

A Long Beach resident receives the coronavirus vaccine at the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center. The vaccine clinic opened on the Long Beach Medical Center campus in late January.

All Long Beach residents at least 16 years old are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, Mayor Robert Garcia announced Thursday, April 8, a week before statewide eligibility is set to expand.

“Because of our progress,” he said in a Thursday morning briefing, “we feel comfortable and confident that we can begin now vaccinating the general population.”

Residents won’t be able to make appointments, though, until April 15, because Long Beach uses the state’s MyTurn system, which relies on state standards and won’t acknowledge the local eligibility expansion. Instead, folks ages 16 and up can use the walk-up system without an appointment at the Long Beach Convention Center; if the facility runs out of doses for the day while folks are in line, residents will be able to make an appointment on-site for another day.

The Convention Center is open for walk-ups from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The site will provide at least 500 doses for walk-ups per day, and Garcia said oftentimes up to 1,000 doses are available.

Thursday’s expansion only applies to Long Beach residents, but on Thursday, April 15, folks ages 16 and up who either live or work in Long Beach will be able to be vaccinated in the city.

The news came as Long Beach’s vaccination program continues to make progress. About 43% of eligible adults have already received at least one dose, Garcia said, including about 86% of those ages 65 and up.

“That is also a really impressive number,” he said, “and we are really outpacing where the country and the state has been on these numbers.”

Officials are also continuing work to ensure the vaccine is evenly distributed throughout the city, Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said, and not just to those who have the time and resources to travel to clinics on their own.

The city will continue offering pop-up clinics in neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates, she said, and will start implementing a shuttle for vaccinations in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Efforts to inoculate more and more of the population are a priority, she said, even as vaccine supply remains a concern.

The city’s allocation of doses has stabilized from the initial weeks of uneven distribution, Colopy said, and Long Beach is now receiving 17,000 to 20,000 per week. But the city has capacity to administer many more doses than it’s receiving right now, she said, including the ability to offer at least 6,000 per day at the Convention Center.

But based on conversations at the state and federal levels, Colopy said, the city expects to start receiving “quite a bit more” vaccine in May.

“So as vaccine allows,” she said, “we’ll just continue to ramp up those efforts.”

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