Coronavirus: LA County aims to vaccinate 80% of residents by end of June

Coronavirus: LA County aims to vaccinate 80% of residents by end of June

Los Angeles County is on track to attain its goal of vaccinating 80% of residents 16 and older against the coronavirus by the end of June, Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county’s public health department said Friday, April 16.

Allocations of the vaccines are slowly inching upward to meet the demand.

County vaccination sites administered 670,000 doses from April 4 to April 11, Simon said, reflecting a pace of 100,000 shots given each day.

Of the 5 million residents 16 to 49 years old who became eligible for inoculations Thursday, 30% of them have received first doses, Simon said. That leaves 3.5 million people in that age group yet to be vaccinated.

“We urge patience as we work as quickly as possible to serve this population as well as all the other eligible groups,” Simon said.

With more than 700 county vaccination sites, officials expect to be able to meet the increased demand.

The county expects to receive more than 600,000 allocations next week, with 66,670 coming directly from the state to county sites, and 54,300 from the federal government to federally qualified health centers in the county. It also hopes to get more than 100,000 doses from the federal government directly to local pharmacies.

Next week, the county will allocate 361,750 doses of vaccine through its provider network, Simon said, a 12% increase from this week. Of those, 228,150 are Pfizer brand and 133,600 Moderna. About 68% of that supply will be for first doses, he added, and 32% for second shots.

The county will allocate 73% of those to higher-needs communities.

It’s just as important for those in younger eligible age groups to get vaccinated as it is for their elders, Simon said, because fully vaccinated people are not only less likely to get the virus, but also less likely to spread it.

“Protecting yourself from getting the virus is one of most important things you can do to protect loved ones,” Simon said.

As of April 9, he added, 71% of the population 65 and older had gotten at least one dose, and 41% of residents 16 and older had gotten at least one dose.

The vaccine trials determined that someone has less chance of having symptoms or dying from an infection, he said, but not whether or not inoculated people could transmit the virus while asymptomatic. Later studies, however, suggested that the vaccines are also good in preventing asymptomatic infection, he added, and if infected, a vaccinated person would have a much lower amount of the virus in their system than otherwise, meaning less risk of spreading it to someone else.

“Studies are still evolving,” Simon said, but “right now there’s good reason to believe that if you’re vaccinated, you’re protected (and so are) others around you.”

Simon also reminded residents that COVID is not the only virus to be wary of in terms of social distancing, and now is a good time to catch up on vaccines that might have been missed in the past year, especially for children going back to school and those who plan to travel.

Despite the county’s initial concern of heightened public anxiety about getting the Pfizer and Moderna brand vaccines upon the halt in Johnson & Johnson, Simon said, there’s still good demand of the available two. Public Health is hopeful that if the adverse effect in the one-shot doses are confirmed to be very rare, he added, it can maintain the public’s confidence in that vaccine.

Only 5 to 10% of those registering for appointments are not showing up for their shots, Simon said.

As L.A. County gets closer to vaccinating all it’s residents, public health officials still worry about groups of people who are reluctant to take the shots, Simon said. The county is actively working with community organizations, churches and other institutions in hard hit communities to help get information out, he added, as well as making sure people can make appointments at sites near where they live.

Public health reported 36 new deaths and 643 new cases of COVID-19, on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 23,601 and total cases to 1,228,114. Pasadena on Friday reported four new cases and no new deaths, bringing that city to 11,190 total cases and 340 overall deaths.

Hospitalizations dropped just under 500 Friday, at 498, down from 512 the previous day, with 117 in intensive care, down from 123 the day before.

Among cities with independent health departments: Pasadena’s four new cases raised its total to 11,190 on Friday; the city’s death toll remained 340. Long Beach did not update its figures Friday; it remained at 52,582 cases and 926 deaths.

Although it’s good to see numbers continue to decrease, Simon said he’s worried about that potentially reversing based on surges happening in other states.

“That indicates, in my mind, the potential for us to move in the wrong direction,” Simon said. “The virus in no way respects borders–as people travel there’s more opportunity for virus to travel jurisdictions.”

With that, Simon encouraged people to hang on for another couple of months and keep doing everything they can to prevent spread of the virus, including avoiding large gatherings and being cognizant of the space around themselves in public.

“If we can just get through the next couple months and we continue to vaccinate at the rate we’re vaccinating, we’re gong to be much more resistant to another surge,” Simon said.

It’s important to remember, however, that children may not be able to get vaccinated until the end of summer, Simon said. That’s why, he added, getting vaccination rates as high as possible among adults is critical to prevent a further surge.

Once studies on children getting the shots are completed and reviewed, Simon said, hopefully at least older children could be eligible before the summer ends.

“Until that happens, we have reservoir of several million children who will continue to be susceptible” to illness, he said.

State leaders expect to lift all pandemic-induced closures, social distancing rules and capacity limits at businesses and public places across California starting June 15, though the state’s mask mandate will stay in place as a precaution.

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