LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — There were long lines outside the federally-run COVID-19 vaccine supersite at California State University, Los Angeles, Thursday morning, one day after officials announced that they had such an excess of COVID-19 vaccine doses that they would allow anyone age 18 and older to walk up and receive a vaccination.
However, the site got so much demand, that by 10 a.m. Thursday, officials were forced to halt the walk-up vaccinations and only fulfill those with advanced appointments.
"I heard it in the news and I was one of those, telling all my friends, 'you gotta go over there right now, there are no appointments," said Christian Lugo, a South Gate resident. "And then a bit later they retracted on that."
Car after car crept through the campus entrance at the federally run massive vaccination site Thursday.
"They said there was going to be walk-in appointments, and that there was nobody here, so I looked it up and rushed down here, it took me like 30 minutes to get here," Manuel Dominguez of Newport Beach told CBSLA Thursday morning.
However, when he arrived, he learned that was not the case.
"We were just talking to a couple of the military people right there," Dominguez said. We could be here all day, we might not get an appointment, we might not get a vaccine."
The state's Office of Emergency Services had reported Wednesday that so many Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments at the Cal State LA site were going unfilled that they were opening up the vaccination site to anyone age 18 and older. However, on Thursday morning CAL OES reversed course, saying that the appointments had filled up.
"We drove like 40 minutes to get here, and we waited in line for like over an hour now, so at this point, we're gonna keep waiting and see what happens," David Houle of Venice Beach said.
Meanwhile, beginning this coming Monday, the city of L.A. will take over operation of the site from the federal government.
"To the extent to which appointments go unfilled, there may be a limited number of appointments available as walk ups for individuals 18+ between tomorrow and continuing through Sunday when management of the site transfers to the city," CAL OES spokesman Brian Ferguson told CBSLA in a statement Wednesday. "Providing vaccinators working at the site some flexibility to fill vacant appointment slots allows us to expand the rate of vaccinations in California in an efficient, effective and equitable manner."
Vaccination eligibility opened up on April 1 to anyone 50 years and older, and beginning April 15, anyone 16 years old and up will be able to get the vaccine across California.
"I went online and I made an appointment anyway just in case," said Wallace Flowers. "And I'm glad I did, looking at the number of people that are out here!"
Vaccination clinics have been popping up all over the region, making it easier than ever to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the opening of a new clinic at the Million-Dollar Theater, next to Grand Central Market, in downtown L.A. He urged restaurant workers and their families to get vaccinated, regardless of their immigration status or health insurance access.
Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner to encourage parents to get their vaccinations at George Washington Prep Senior High School or Abraham Lincoln Senior High in Lincoln Heights, the first of 25 LAUSD campuses that will host vaccine clinics.
"The LA Unified School District will continue in its outreach to all the students and make sure they all will get the benefit of the vaccine because we all wanna get well, we don't want to lose anymore people to the COVID virus," Abdul-Jabbar said.
Other vaccine clinics also launched Wednesday at Los Angeles City College and at the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA, both of which require appointments.
The drive-thru and walk-up clinic launched at LA City College, but future clinics – which are open to the general public and members of L.A. Care and Blue Shield Promise -- will take place on select days at hard-hit locations like East Los Angeles, Pacoima, Lynwood and the Antelope Valley. Appointments for the L.A. Care clinic can be made at lacare.org/vaccine.
The Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA clinic will be open through Saturday for eligible Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative members who live and work in Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Florence-Firestone, Maywood, Huntington Park, Lynwood, South Gate, Vernon and Walnut Park. A total of 2,000 Johnson & Johnson doses are expected to be distributed over the four-day clinic.
Meanwhile, eligible residents of Glendale and its surrounding communities can get their vaccines this Friday at a mass vaccination site at Glendale Community College. The site will be run by Jewel City Vax Clinic in partnership with the city, Glendale Community College, and Adventist Health Glendale, and will have the capacity to administer 10,000 vaccinations per week. Appointments at this site can be made at the state's MyTurn website.
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