Mass vaccination sites in Oakland, LA set to open as others forced to close

Mass vaccination sites at the Oakland Coliseum and Cal State Los Angeles opened for business on Tuesday as other sites around California are being forced to close because of lack of supply. 

The two newest openings are part of President Biden's promise to open 100 mass vaccination sites in his first 100 days in office and they are federally funded, meaning they will have a federal vaccine supply. The aim is to vaccinate 6,000 people a day at these sites. 

The Oakland site will give out vaccines to people in 1a and 1b tiers - meaning that healthcare workers and 65+ groups, teachers and agriculture workers can book appointments there. Those eligible, can make an appointment here.

"I'm very excited and a little nervous," said Linda Bowen, who was in a long line of people who were about to be vaccinated in the Coliseum parking lot on Tuesday. "I have some nieces in the medical field who have gotten it already and some elderly family who have received it, so I'm OK. I'm OK." 

That federal supply is in stark contrast to what's happening on the local and county level, where vaccination sites at Moscone Center in San Francisco and Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles have to temporarily shut down because they've run out of doses. 

In San Francisco, mass vaccinations are on hold at the Moscone convention center for a week until supply ramps up, officials announced Sunday. They also said vaccinations at City College of San Francisco will stop then restart Friday but only for second dose appointments.

"I’m frustrated because we’ve shown that SF can administer shots as soon as they come in," Mayor London Breed said on social media. "We’re hoping for more info in the next few days. We’ll maintain enough doses to ensure second shots for people on schedule."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Tuesday the federal government will be increasing the number of vaccines it sends to states. Governors were informed through a call with COVID response coordinator Jeff Zientz.

"We're increasing the covid vaccine supply to 13.5 million doses per week that will go out to states," said Psaki. "This is a 57% increase from the amount states received since the president was inaugurated."

The locations at the Oakland Coliseum and Cal State LA were picked with an eye toward equity, said Gov. Gavin Newsom, and slots will be reserved for people in surrounding areas. Residents can use "My Turn," a new statewide tool, to register and make appointments.

Each site will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and start with administering 4,000 doses on Tuesday before ramping up to 6,000 a day, said Cal OES spokesman Brian Ferguson. Mobile clinics will also start operating.

The state also released details of its $15 million contract with insurer Blue Shield, which was picked to run California’s new centralized vaccine delivery system. Blue Shield will be responsible for developing incentive payment criteria for providers and algorithms to allocate vaccines and prioritize appointments.

Its job is to manage the provider network so it hits certain benchmarks, such as making sure vaccines are available for 95% of people within a half-hour drive in urban areas and one-hour drive in rural area.

It will also be charged with hitting a monthly vaccine percentage — to be determined by the state — for people in under-resourced populations. The contract calls for 4 million doses to be administered statewide each week by the end of April, although that includes federal vaccinations and is subject to supply.

Blue Shield will not be reimbursed for staff time, but the $15 million is expected for out-of-pocket costs the insurer may incur, such as consultants, equipment and lawyers. The full list of reimbursable costs is still being developed, according to the contract.

California continues to see lower rates of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, although deaths are falling more slowly. The state on Monday reported another 200 deaths, bringing the total since the outbreak began to more than 47,000 — the highest in the nation. The state also reported nearly 6,500 new cases, bringing the total number of recorded coronavirus infections to 3.4 million.

Many cities and counties in California are crying for more vaccine, saying they have the ability to deliver it to residents. They’re struggling to maintain doses for large-scale sites and to get vaccine to harder-hit neighborhoods, which are largely working class and heavily Black and Latino.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city expects to receive 58,000 doses this week and will prioritize people needing second shots. About 4,600 first doses will be set aside for people in vulnerable communities, he said.

San Francisco plans to go ahead with opening a third high-volume vaccination site in the hard-hit Bayview neighborhood but will do so with fewer appointments. Officials said they have delivered at least one dose to nearly half of city residents 65 and older.

The mass vaccination site at the Moscone center opened less than two weeks ago with high hopes to inoculate as many as 10,000 people a day. Its initial supply came from Kaiser Permanente, which had been tasked by the governor with administering 85,000 doses at Moscone and at Cal Poly Pomona from unused shipments that had gone to CVS Pharmacy, Kaiser said.

More than 6 million doses have been administered throughout California with at least 1 million people receiving both doses. The state is getting roughly 1 million doses a week, with a significant share reserved for second shots, said Newsom.

Associated Press reporter Janie Har contributed to this report.