SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Quarantine isn’t so bad with someone you love, but 68-year-old Martha Ree is excited nonetheless for the freedom that comes with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m excited because we’re worried about it. We’re being fastidious about staying home and having things delivered and not interacting and keeping our distance.”
The retiree has been unable to get an appointment at any of the major Los Angeles County vaccination sites, but heard about Kedren Community Health Center, a clinic in South L.A. with walk-up registration for seniors.
Starting Tuesday, the major sites will prioritize second dose appointments, making getting a first dose even more difficult.
“Every morning and every evening I was looking at all the websites and then when there were phone numbers for hotlines and that type of thing I tried those. I sat on hold for an hour for one of them, didn’t get through,” Ree said.
Dr. Jerry Abraham runs the clinic at Kedren and said a lack of vaccine supply is forcing the county to make tough decisions. Moderna claims one dose of its vaccine provides 80% protection, with the second dose increasing it to 95%.
“They’re in so many ways competing interests,” Dr. Abraham said of the balance between prioritizing second doses over the need to inoculate as many people as possible. “The biggest limiting factor is we just don’t have enough vaccine.”
Los Angeles County received 184,625 doses of vaccine last week, according to Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health. Health officials are hoping to get more supply in the coming weeks, as more Angelenos qualify for their second dose.
Kedren is a private clinic serving as a vaccination hub in South L.A., relying on its own staff, resources and volunteers to vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day. Dr. Abraham plans to continue to administer first doses, even as the County sites pull back.
“We need more help. We need more vaccines. We need more hands. We need more resources. We’re pretty much stretched to the limit now so I’m not sure how much more we can do without those things,” Abraham said.
For Ree and her husband, access to the first dose is a lifeline.
“It gives us our freedom back to be able to go out and participate in life and know we’re not going to die from doing that,” she said.
After a year cooped up in their condo, they know their relationship can survive a pandemic. Now with the vaccine, they are confident they will too.