UPDATED: Mayor Eric Garcetti responded tonight to criticism after he received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine despite not seeming to meet eligibility requirements.
Garcetti, 49, received the vaccine on Jan. 21 after he spent five days assisting efforts at the Dodger Stadium mass-vaccination center.
“Quite simply, it was strong medical advice from the people that were there, and what’s offered to everybody that’s working there,” said the mayor.
“I think it’s really important when people do get that medical advice to say, ‘Yes,’ and to be [an] example, not to be an example because you’re an elected official but when that comes, we need people to know you should say, ‘Yes,’ and that you should feel good about this vaccine being safe, and I wanted to make sure that we did that as well,” Garcetti said during his COVID-19 briefing Thursday.
The vaccination guidelines of California and LA County allow jurisdictions to offer vaccines to people 65 and older, healthcare workers, staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities and longterm care facilities.
Garcetti assured people that the vaccine was safe and he experienced minimal side effects.
“You kind of feel like you’ve worked out pretty hard on your shoulder the next day, and the next day you can’t feel anything from that soreness,” he said.
“I’ve had flu shots and other vaccinations that felt worse than this one.”
PREVIOUSLY at 11:40 a.m. As many Angelenos are struggling to understand if they qualify for a Covid-19 vaccine — and then struggling to get one — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti received his first dose on January 21.
Garcetti, who turns 50 next week, does not seem to qualify under the current county health officer order, which specifies the current allotment of doses is for those over 65, healthcare workers, staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities and longterm care facilities.
A spokesman for the mayor, Alex Comisar, said, “Mayor Garcetti has spent many days, as he is today, at Dodger Stadium, assisting on the frontline of the vaccination effort, directly interacting with hundreds of Angelenos each day.
“The medical personnel strongly recommended that he receive the vaccine as they have recommended and provided for other field staff and volunteers at the site who have close contact with clients.”
While that may be sound medical advice, it may not turn out to be so politically. Getting the vaccine while many who are officially qualified struggle to get it may be seen as jumping the line. California Governor Gavin Newson cited exactly that calculation when asked why he has not been vaccinated.
Local health officials — and Garcetti himself — have repeatedly complained about the low number of doses being delivered to the nation’s most populous county. They have estimated that, at this pace, the current phase of vaccinations will take until at least mid-March to complete.
“We are currently severely restrained by what has become a limited number of doses,” said LA County Chief Science Officer Dr. Paul Simon last week.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Wednesday that the region received 137,000 doses this week and expects 188,000 next week.
While President Joe Biden announced a plan this week to increase output by 50%, Dr. Simon estimated that the county would need 500,000 doses each week to have 75% of LA county vaccinated by mid-summer. That could be enough to create herd immunity.
If weekly supplies remain as-is, Dr. Simon warned that herd immunity via vaccine could take “well into 2022.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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