Los Angeles Collegian Online

COVID Worries Drive the Hunt for Surplus Vaccines

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By Jonathan Montes

Millennial shot-chasers tell why they wait in line for a chance at leftover vaccines.

Vaccine hunters formed a line that began at the entrance of the Kedren Community Health Center at 4211 S. Avalon in Los Angeles and continued to the end of block of Theresa Lindsay Park Street.

Some people read books, others munched on snacks, talked on the phone or listened to music while they waited.

Millennials between the ages of 25 and 40 will be the last priority on the long list of COVID-19 vaccination appointments. In South L.A., young adults are chasing a shot in the arm with one thing in mind: surviving the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic continues to unfold in Los Angeles as many people at greater risk will be the first to get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies individuals with underlying medical conditions and senior citizens to be at increased risk for contracting the virus.

Los Angeles County Public Health officials are coordinating vaccinations for healthcare workers, staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, staff and residents at long-term care facilities, and L.A. County residents who are 65 and older.

On March 2, President Joe Biden promised there will be enough vaccine for all adults to be inoculated by the end of May. L.A. County public health reports indicate the vaccine will be free for everyone who wants it and will be offered to different groups in phases.

However, the general public does not have access to the vaccine yet. There are some who do not fit the at-risk profile but want to get the shot now. They are vaccine chasers.
Vaccine chasers go to any location where Moderna, Pfizer or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being disturbed and wait for leftovers at the end of the day.

A 10-foot wall of ivy with crimson flora blooming on top provided shade for vaccine chasers, as they waited at the Kedren Community Health Center. They talked to the Collegian about their efforts to get the COVID-19 shot.

Claire Martin is 40 years old and lives in Los Angeles. She says she suffers from an underlying health condition, and it is vital that she get the vaccine. She waited 15 minutes in line on her second attempt.

“I don’t want to get COVID-19,” Martin said.

She has been on a serious hunt to get vaccinated, and it has not been easy for her.

“Very frustrating,” she said. “Between trying to get it through doctors, trying to get it by signing up on the County’s website — it has been very frustrating.”

One man in line was a long way from home. Charlie Coleman is from Liverpool, England. He waited 25 minutes in line before he gave up. This was his first attempt to get vaccinated. He says a shot in the arm would simplify his life.

“I mean, it would just be easier for me to just be vaccinated earlier upfront,” Coleman said. “It’s just easier for work, that’s all, and ultimately for travel.”

Native Angeleno Eddie C. is also in pursuit of protection from COVID-19. The 39-year-old has tried twice before to get the vaccine. He says the line is shorter today, and the odds may be in his favor.

He told the Collegian that trying to get the vaccine is a whole process in itself.

“I’m not over 65 and a health worker. I’m just in the bottom of the bucket,” Eddie said. “But if there’s an opportunity to get it, like a standby line, I’m going to do the best I can to try and get it. Just so I can see loved ones again and . . . go back to regular life.”
He says he knows there are people who are skeptical about taking the vaccine.

“. . . People are going to have their own opinions.,” he said. “Just do your own research. Follow the science . . . We don’t want any more deaths or more hospitalizations.”

Working conditions on the job drove 47-year-old Christoph to the healthcare center in search of the vaccine. He asked to be identified by his first name only. He is from Belgium. He waited a half hour in line on his second try. He says it is important that he get the vaccine because of the close quarters of his work environment.

“I have not stopped working since the beginning,” he said. “I work with 120 people in construction … If 25% of us get COVID-19, I think we should all get vaccinated. And if we’re not front-liners, we should be behind them.”

Since COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in the United States last December, approximately 9.5 million doses have been given in California. The number of Angelenos who have been vaccinated in L.A. County is just under 2.3 million.

On the national level, there is an infusion of new energy to make sure all Americans are vaccinated. To that end, 78 million doses have been distributed throughout the nation to date, according to CDC reports.

Christoph says he understands that some will still be skeptical about taking the vaccine.

“. . . From all the numbers to date, it seems to be very safe,” he said. “Just look at Israel whose numbers have plummeted down because so many people got the vaccine. So, it seems to be working.”

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