Community health centers need more vaccines Clinic’s chief operating officers says
By Sam Catanzaro
Venice Family Clinic is calling on the officials increase COVID-19 vaccine distribution to community health centers, saying it has capacity to help thousands of vulnerable Westside patients.
Last week, Anita Zamora, Venice Family Clinic’s chief operating officer and deputy director, published an an op-ed in Capitol Weekly calling on the state and Blue Shield to give community health centers like her clinic adequate vaccine supplies. According to Zamora, Venice Family Clinic has only been able provide the required two doses of the Moderna vaccine to 55 of its 27,000 patients. It has been told it will receive about 200 doses each week — but that is a tenth of the Clinic’s weekly vaccination capacity of 2,000 doses.
Last month, health insurance company Blue Shield of California contracted with the state to design and manage a new centralized system to get doses out quickly. Part of the company’s plan is focused on mega-sites, as seen at Cal State LA, the Forum and Dodger Stadium. Zamora, however, says this won’t help may of their patients.
Zamora contends that if community health centers were given more doses, patients who may not benefit from the mega sites can be vaccinated. According to the Clinic, more than half of their patients live at or below the federal poverty line of approximately $26,000 for a family of four. Nearly seven in 10 of their patients are people of color.
“Many of our patients lack the computer savvy, home computers or broadband access needed to successfully book appointments at mega-sites. Either they or, in the case of our oldest patients, their adult children who could help them, often work in jobs that don’t offer the time or opportunities to search for appointments,” Zamora wrote. “If they get an appointment, most don’t have a car to get to a mega-site, such as California State University, Los Angeles. They would have to take two or three different buses and as much as two hours to get there. If they’re working, they would have to take the day off and, for most of them, that means no income that day.”
The Governor’s Office and Blue Shield were not immediately available for comment.