Veteran Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-43) made a surprising visit to the Forum vaccine distribution site on President Day Feb 15th to learn firsthand about the policies, procedures and ongoing operation.
“I left Washington to come to my district to learn what is going on with the vaccine distribution and figure out a how more of our seniors and underserved population can receive the vaccine,” Waters explained to Inglewood Today which was granted exclusivity for the tour.
Wearing pumps, red pants and a black jacket the 82-year Waters arrived at the Forum on a sunny albeit windy day at just past noon.
Upon her arrival she was met by various leaders of the distribution site which included medical personnel, triage nurses, Los Angeles County nurses and fire department members assigned to the Inglewood site.
The Forum can accommodate 4,000 vaccine candidates per day, but is only servicing 1,200, according to officials at the site who asked to speak off the record for this article. The most vaccinations distributed at the Forum has been 2,400 on a single day far below expectations.
Like many distribution sites throughout the nation, officials say there are handicapped by the short supply of the vaccine.
“We told them to give us 3000, but the problem was the allocation. We want to run 4000 a day here and you see we have it set up to do that. The manufacture has to supply as well,” two officials told Rep. Waters.
“I know we are boosting the manufacture production supply and this president is rushing as fast as he can to get more medicine and more places to distribute it. We are also really interested in how we can put mobile facilities to work,” said Rep. Waters.
Waters began the tour in a small jeep with two officials that began at the Kareem Ct. entrance point where vehicles are guided by orange cones to registration.
While the vaccine is free, LA County residents are required to apply for the vaccine through what has become a most challenging registration process.
On this particular day the second dose of the vaccine was being administered to elderly (65 years and older) individuals who had previously received their first weeks ago.
Those vaccinated receive a card with their name on it and certification of their shot and the date of their shot. The person can choose which arm they would like to receive their dose.
“Once they get registered, they will come up here to our vaccination area and over there is our IT tent where the computers record their information,” added the official.
Rep. Waters inquired about who the people were that are being vaccinated.
Most if not all of the vaccinated individuals on this day appeared to be not to represent Blacks or African Americans, but the officials insisted they were Los Angeles County residents.
The disparity of the vaccine distribution process has been a growing concern among minorities who have proportionately been affected more by the coronavirus disease than white and other ethnic groups, a concern that troubles Congresswoman Waters.
“The dosage amount allocated to the site is based on the computer system and they limited the number of appointments that are available based on servicing the second dose personnel. So, when they were going through and vaccinating everybody and when it got down to vaccinating the second shot and there was supposedly a shortage of dosages, they felt like we better make sure we have an enough for the people who were supposed to get the second shot, so they put a temporary stop on first dosages. So, for the last week or so we’ve only been doing second dosages,” explained to official.
Rep. Waters visited all of the various tents utilized for the operation, the IT Tent, Triage Tent, and the tent where the vaccinations are stored and extracted for distribution.
The Congresswoman probed a variety of individuals at the site including the intern nurses from various cities such as Cleveland, Atlanta and even Alabama.
She wanted to know about the refrigeration of the vaccine which was adequate.
“So, this is the refrigeration here? And you don’t have any problems?”
Vaccine vials may be stored in the refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) for up to 30 days before vials are punctured.
Her mission on this occasion was for fact finding purposes, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic continues to paralyze our nation.
Waters is instrumental in advancing President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, that will directly impact residents of Inglewood and throughout the 43rd District.
Among Waters chief alarms is the distributions of the vaccine to seniors at senior centers within her district.
“Many of our seniors don’t use email or cell phones to the extent that others do and it is imperative that we find a way to take the vaccine directly to where they are. This is something that we will have to figure out,” Waters stated.
During the tour she was shown the igloo container with ice packs that can refrigerate the vaccine up to six hours and she wants to explore how the igloo and vaccine can be central to a mobile distribution campaign.
Waters returned to Washington with enough information that could prove to be significant in the fight against the coronavirus.