I'm 65+, Immune Compromised With Underlying Health Issue. I Sought Vaccine Appt'ment Jan,. 14. Some Got Vax'd But I And Undisclosed Number Of Others Got Nothing And Undisclosed Number Of Others Got Digital Brushoff...And See What City Staffers Offered Me (And I Refused)
(Jan. 22, 2021) -- LBREPORT.com is now in our 21st year of reporting news independently online in the City of Long Beach. For the past week, we've published "First Person" pieces reporting our experience (65+ and immune suppressed fighting cancer) and those of others seeking City-dispensed COVID-19 vaccines.. We contrasted this with the vaccine availability narrative offered by Mayor Garcia and city management, contradicted by our experiences and those of others. Some public experiences comments were positive but most we received were negative.
The public was told appointments were unavailable while they could see others received appointments. Some of the reasons we heard from those receiving appointments were disturbing. We continue to explore what really happened via a Public Records Act request.
The City relegated us and others to a supposed "waiting list" (no follow-up to date) or told us to "try back" in a few days (when appointments remained unavailable.)
On Jan. 19, I received an email from a city management staffer (in the course of discussing another matter) who offered to "look into" what happened and "if you are still having troubles to make sure that you are able to get scheduled." We responded in writing that we would NOT accept any city management intervention in scheduling a personal appointment for us. (If appointments become available for others in our category, we'll gladly join in seeking one.)
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We continued our First Person Series, broke a story on the small number of vaccines (basically 1,000) given to LBUSD to begin its Jan.25 teacher and education staff vaccinations, pursued a Public Records Act request seeking relevant documents and separately requested information from the Mayor and City Manager on the number of persons on City Hall's "waiting list" (a hundred? a thousand? several thousand?) We also sought the names of DC and Sac'to officials with whom city officials communicated, and their responses, when LB officials presumably sought additional vaccine allocations. (No responses received to our request from the Mayor or City Manager.)
On the afternoon of Jan, 22, we received a telephone call from a city staffer who offered to arrange an appointment for us. We repeated that we will NOT accept management intervention in scheduling a personal appointment and will await an opportunity to obtain an appointment as they become available to others.
Yes, this leaves us at risk for bad outcomes if we contract COVID-19...but so are others, left in these circumstances in our opinion by bungling and poorly reasoned policies at various levels of government. We have no political sacred cows in this. We believe the first priority in LB, Sac'to and DC should be getting vaccine doses into people of all ages that can save lives. Instead, what we and others saw were media events polishing the image of LB's self-declared "vaccine Czar" Mayor Garcia, who under LB's City Charter has no policy setting authority but along with city management brass received vaccinations ahead of those paying their salaries.
Some in this town may rationalize all this. We do not. We refuse as publisher of an independent online news outlet we created and built for over two decades -- with deep gratitude for the support of LB readers like you -- to accept City dispensed privileges while publicly decrying them.
s/ Bill Pearl, publisher
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