As the number of COVID-19 cases in Santa Monica and Los Angeles County continue to rise this week, local leaders are participating in a County wide effort to rapidly scale up vaccinations numbers and appointment availability.

“As is well known across L.A. County, we are not in a good situation with COVID-19. We are arguably, or in fact, the epicenter of this pandemic internationally,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.

County leaders reported 11,366 cases and 108 deaths on Sunday, two days before five “mega” vaccine distribution sites are set to open in L.A. County.

There are 30 vaccination sites throughout the county that are accepting appointments for healthcare workers who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Included in this are the “mega” sites located at the Fairplex in Pomona, the Forum in Inglewood, Cal State Northridge, the L.A. County Office of Education in Downey and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia.

Currently, the closest vaccination site to Santa Monica in the appointment system is the One Medical clinic located at 10000 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City.

According to Dilg, the City is working closely with the County Department of Public Health and state leaders to bring a vaccination site to Santa Monica so it can efficiently facilitate vaccines to local community members.

To register for an appointment, healthcare providers should visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/hcwsignup/pods. Healthcare workers must provide proof of employment using either an employee badge with a photo or a photo ID and a secondary document such as a professional license, signed letter from employer, or paystub.

The website will continually be updated with new locations and appointments and DPH officials said they intend to make a call center available in the coming days to serve health care workers who need help making an appointment online.

Many hospitals, clinics and residential care facilities outside of the County’s appointment system also offer onsite vaccinations directly to employees.

Low risk healthcare workers, such as administrative support staff without in-person patient contact or veterinary medical personnel, will be offered vaccinations in Phase 1B, which is estimated to begin in early February, according to DPH. Phase 1B is for those over 65, certain essential workers, and those living in congregate settings with outbreak risk including incarcerated and homeless individuals.

County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn are urging the County to immediately offer the vaccine to those 65 and over, in line with Governor Newsom’s recommendations.

“Gavin Newsom has encouraged all counties to start vaccinating residents 65 and older so that we can protect our residents who are most vulnerable to this virus. L.A. County needs to follow the State’s lead without further delay,” Hahn said in a tweet on Monday.

L.A. County is currently recruiting licensed clinical professionals to volunteer for 10 hour shifts at its five mega vaccination sites. Volunteers can sign up at: appointments.lacounty.gov/vaccinestaffing.

The most up to date information on L.A. County’s vaccination tiers and timeline can be found at: publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/allocation

Clara@smdp.com