|(Feb. 27, 2021, 12:39 p.m.) -- For weeks, multiple media outlets repeated what Mayor Robert Garcia Tweeted and City Hall releases said about the number of LB residents the City of LB had vaccinated against COVID-19, including boasts of being "ahead of" other jurisdictions.
But those figures were inaccurate as preesented. The figures were inflated by some amount not yet known with precision by including Long Beach residents who were vaccinated outside the City of Long Beach and/or by entities other than the City of Long Beach.
Carefully written text in a Feb. 26 City of Long Beach release. states:
Near the end of the release, the City states: "These numbers differ from the vaccinated residents number above as many people in Long Beach work outside the city and were vaccinated through their employer."
But the City of LB included LB residents who didn't get their shots through the City of LB in City of LB's-cited totals and we don't yet know how many. The City-cited totals include LB residents who turned in frustration to other vaccine sources when they got nowhere using LB's system;
And it's more than through "their employer." All LB residents who've been vaccinated -- including those not through the City of Long Beach -- are included in the LB total cited figure because (city management's Joint Information Center acknowledges) the state sends the City the total figure based on the individual's residence. not the location of their vaccination.
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As a real world example, former LB Councilman/former LBCC Trustee Jeff Kellogg publicly commented on Facebook that he found it (paraphrase) basically impossible to make an appointment using the City's vaccine website, other residents posted comments agreeing with him, in response to which some city officials responded that he'd get an appointment if he signs up and waits.
Mr. Kellogg is among those at high risk and interacts with people daily. Along with other LB residents, he tried the Los Angeles County Dept, of Public Health webpage and found a vaccination appointment open in Downey,
His experience paralleled that of LBREPORT.com publisher Bill Pearl (65+ and immune suppressed fighting cancer.) In mid-January, Pearl signed up with the City of LB on learning that Mayor Garcia and LB Councilmembers had been vaccinated on Jan. 14. (It's currently unclear exactly who inside City Hall bent state rules to liken the electeds to emergency services workers needed to maintain the "continuity" of local government. LBREPORT.com coveage here.) Pearl received a robotic email telling him he'd be notified, then nothing.
At the same time, we knew others were receiving appointments and vaccinations. We reported our experience and what LB residents were experiencing on LBREPORT.com. Shortly thereafter, we received two unsolicited calls from city staffers offering to look into the matter for us. We adamantly refused any "insider" type City Hall assistance and said we would wait for an appointment using a publicly available system.
We eventully tried the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health webpage, and received an appointment for both vaccine doses at the County's well run mass vaccination site in Downey. (After receiving our second dose. the City of LB sent us a robotic email indicating we could receive our first City-offered dose.)
The bottom line numerically: LB residents who didn't get their shots through the City of LB are included in the City of LB's-cited totals and we don't yet know how many.
It is clear that the City's early first dose policy benefited some but had negative consequences for other LB residents. The City didn't put aside sufficient second doses for LB residents who received early first doses. This has now required the City to tap a portion of scarce arriving vaccines to provide second doses for those who received early first doses while telling other LB residents who needed first doses that they weren't available.
The City's Feb. 26 release says 60% of older LB adults 43% of the older adults in L.A. County and 52.6% in Orange County. ..but acknowledges that the LB figure includes those "vaccinated either in Long Beach or another jurisdiction." But when second dose percentges in LB and LA County are compared, they're fairly close: roughly 7%+ for LB compared to about 6% for LA County BUT using a LB figure that includes persons not vaccinated by the City of LB who may have been vaccinated by LA County.
The City's definition of "vaccinations" is also foggy. It appears to refer to individuals who've received their first dose but not their second needed for full immunity. As of Feb. 27, the City's newly configured COVID-198 dashboard lists 68,657 "vaccinated residents" with 66,553 receiving their "first dose," 37,821 receiving their "second dose" and 27,961 "committed to second dose" [it's unclear what "committed" means in this context.]
And a threshold question remains unanswered: what was Mayor Garcia's actual role in LB vaccine policy? Although he declared himself LB's "vaccine czar" and has been a ubiquitous media presence, LB's City Charter gives LB's Mayor no unilateral city policy setting authority. City management isn't supposed to answer to him but to LB's policy-setting City Council (subject to a Mayoral veto that six of nine Councilmembers can override.) Despite these undeniable facts, a number of media outlets continue to credit Garcia for his currently undocumented role in a vaccine policy he had no legal authority to set.
As of late February 2021, the consequences of the City's decision to enable early vaccinations without reserving second doses appears to be subsiding. Whether this continues depends on vaccine supplies continuaing to increase. Demand is expected to increase after March 1 as additional groups become eligible for vaccinations.
For now, social network dispatches indicate people who'd been told to wait are now receiving City appointments and vaccinations,. Reports also indicate the City of Long Beach and its Health Dept. sites are well run.
LBREPORT.com has learned that in the coming days, the City will phase out its "VAXLB" website as it transitions to state-run (Blue Shield contracted) "My Turn" system. City management says those who've already signed up seeking appointments with the City's VAXLB system needn't do anything else; it says residents will be automatically shifted to the state system and all new appointments will be directed to the state system.
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