How does California distribute scarce vaccines?

12 February 2021

SACRAMENTO — At this stage of the vaccine rollout it seems unfathomable that Los Angeles would be forced to temporarily close its largest vaccination site at Dodger Stadium and four other locations because they are out of doses. But it’s happened and it raises questions about how local, state and federal governments determine where to send scarce vaccine doses.

Here’s a look at California’s vaccination system:


The federal government decides each week how many vaccines a state will get, then the state determines how to divide them among counties and major health systems. Counties and health systems almost always ask for more than they get, the result of having far more capacity than available shots.

The state divvies up the vaccine through a formula aimed at estimating how many people in an area are eligible.

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