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What L.A. Child Care Providers Need to Know About Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

A teacher at Young Horizons Child Development Centers in Long Beach wears a face mask when speaking to her students.
A teacher at Young Horizons Child Development Centers in Long Beach wears a face mask when speaking to her students. | Chava Sanchez/LAist
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The following article was originally republished Feb. 4, 2021 through a collaboration with KPCC and LAist.

Story by Mariana Dale

Child care providers, many of whom have never stopped caring for children during the coronavirus pandemic, are anxiously awaiting their turn for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Here we are again left to fend for ourselves while we're being asked to stay open," said Jeannette Romero, Pasadena Day Nursery For Child Development executive director.

With the exception of Long Beach, most L.A.-area child care workers under 65 aren't eligible to be vaccinated yet. L.A. and Orange counties and the city of Pasadena — which has its own health department — will include providers in the next eligible group, but with an uncertain supply, it's hard to say whether it will be days or weeks before they'll be able to sign up for appointments.

Many of L.A.'s child care workers are part of a population more likely to contract COVID-19 — 65% of early educators are Latino.

"Our Latinx community is, in fact, bearing the worst of this pandemic," L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in January.

Justine Flores is a family child care provider in Los Angeles who says she knows colleagues and community members who have died from COVID-19. Others can only breathe with the help of a ventilator.

"I don't want to see no more providers pass away," Flores said. "I don't want to have to visit another funeral home."

Flores was vaccinated in January because she also works as a nurse, but says it still took her weeks to get an appointment.

People have asked why she continues to provide child care despite often making less than minimum wage — even before the pandemic.

"These children, they need to continue to have some sort of structure in their life, especially during a pandemic," Flores said. "This is why child care providers stepped up because of the fact that if we don't do it, who will?"

Read on to learn more about the vaccine rollout for providers in L.A. County, Orange County, Long Beach and Pasadena.

(We'll update this story as new information comes in. If you've got tips or questions, please tell us using the box at the bottom of this story.)

For general information about getting the first dose of the vaccine and answers to questions like "Is it safe?" go here. Need a second dose? We've answered a bunch of questions about that here.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

L.A. County is currently vaccinating Phase 1A and some groups from Phase 1B, Tier 1 which includes healthcare workers, staff and residents at nursing/long-term care facilities and residents 65 and older.

Child care providers under the age of 65 are in the next group of Phase 1B, Tier 1, along with educators, emergency services, food and agriculture workers.

Who will be eligible?

This is NOT final, but the proposed list includes all staff at child care centers, licensed family child care home providers, "family, friend, and neighbor" providers who receive state subsidy payments, staff members of agencies that provide child care resources and referrals, employees of agencies that funnel state funding to subsidized child care providers, and staff from public parks and recreation and youth programs that provide child care.

Child care workers will likely have to present an ID and some kind of documentation, such as a license for family child care providers, a work badge for an employee or a letter from a resource and referral agency.

The above information is derived from L.A. County Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education Director Debra Colman's presentation during the Friday, Jan. 29 L.A. County ECE COVID-19 Response Team Community Call. Like everything related to COVID-19, it's subject to change.

Cristina Alvarado, executive director of Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, whose 10 partner agencies deliver child care services throughout the county, estimated they will need about 100,000 vaccines to cover the proposed list of workers.

"They're not forgotten," she said of child care providers and staff. "We know that it's very important that they be served and not only are we advocating for them, we're literally trying to plan together with DPH (Department of Public Health) some steps for addressing that need."

How to prepare:

When providers become eligible, you don't want to miss the news. Multiple agencies will be sending out information.Alvarado recommends providers create a profile on the CA ECE Workforce Registry and contact their local resource and referral agency.

Providers can also join the next LA County ECE COVID-19 Response Team Community Call. They're typically on Friday mornings and information about those calls is usually posted here.

ORANGE COUNTY

Orange County is currently vaccinating Phase 1A, which includes healthcare workers, staff and residents at nursing/long-term care facilities and residents 65 and older.

Child care providers under the age of 65 are part of the next group, Phase 1B, Tier 1, along with educators, emergency services, food and agriculture workers.

How to prepare:

Workers who are currently eligible for vaccines need to show an ID and one piece of documentation including a professional license, employee badge, signed note from an employer on letterhead or a pay stub with their name on it. It's unclear yet whether child care workers will have to show similar documents when they become eligible for vaccination.

The Orange County Health Care Agency vaccination distribution website says the agency will notify child care employers, who will then notify eligible staff when vaccines are available.

We know not all child care workers have traditional employers and reached out to the county with questions. We'll update this post when we hear back.

LONG BEACH

Long Beach opened vaccine appointments to child care workers, who are in Phase 1B, Tier 1, during the week of January 25.

Here's who's eligible, according to the city's vaccine website: nannies, all staff (including facilities and maintenance staff) at preschools, day camps, afterschool programs and home schooling programs. Home-based child care providers are not eligible yet.

"Due to our limited vaccine supply, we started with center-based early childhood education providers," Jennifer Rice Epstein, public affairs officer for the city of Long Beach, wrote in an email. "Once more vaccine is available, we will certainly take home-based childcare center(s), too."

How to prepare:

Check first to see if your employer is offering vaccinations. If not, sign up on the VaxLB website.

Child care workers need to provide some proof of employment such as a paystub or letter from their employer.

PASADENA

Pasadena is currently vaccinating Phase 1A and one group of Phase 1B, Tier 1 which includes healthcare workers, staff and residents at nursing/long-term care facilities and residents 65 and older.

Child care workers, educators, emergency services, food and agriculture workers are in the next group to be eligible.

"Due to constrained vaccine supply, and the fact that we simply do not know how much we will receive or when, it's difficult to provide a timeline for when we will move on to other eligible populations," said city spokesperson Lisa Derderian.

The city is still determining which types of child care workers will be eligible. Those that are will likely have to show some type of employment verification like a badge, paystub, letter from their employer or copy of their license, but these details are still being finalized.

The city is working with its Office of the Young Child and the local resource and referral agency Options For Learning to understand how to reach the various sectors of the child care workforce.

How to prepare:

See the above recommendations for L.A. County providers.

Derderian said Pasadena will likely partner with local pharmacies, Huntington Hospital and create vaccination sites to distribute shots when they're available to child care workers.

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