Youth vaccinated
Noelani Reynoso, 15, shows where she was vaccinated against COVID-19. Image from LA County Health video

While the pace of residents being vaccinated against COVID-19 has dramatically slowed, Los Angeles County saw an encouraging uptick over the past month in vaccinations among some key younger age groups in recently released data, the public health director said.

The county still has persistent vaccination gaps among ethnic groups, with only 54% of Black residents and 63% of Latino/a residents having received at least one dose, compared to 72% of white residents and 82% of Asians.

Younger Black and Latino/a residents have been most notable in their low vaccination rates, but Public health Director Barbara Ferrer said there is a sign of improvement.

“Although we continue to have large gaps in vaccination between age and racial and ethnic subgruops, this last month has brought some success, especially among younger residents,” Ferrer said. “… The greater increases were among our young American-Indian/Alaska Native residents, but we also saw great increases in vaccination among Black and Latinx youth and Black adults aged 30 to 49.

“We do thank those who recently decided to get vaccinated, and we hope that over the coming weeks, they serve as a reminder that we each have a role to play in preventing a devastating winter surge. This is especially true since there are still 1.3 million children that still cannot get vaccinated.”

Ferrer said vaccination increases among younger residents could be the result of mandates for school students, but the approaching winter holidays could also be prompting families to get their kids inoculated.

“I think a lot of parents are saying, `You know, getting ready for the holidays, I want you vaccinated,”’ she said. “… We’ve all lived through a devastating winter last year, so I think there’s a lot greater push from family members for their teens to get vaccinated.

“… We’re just glad to see the increase and I want to give a lot of credit — there are a lot of students that are talking to their peers after they do get vaccinated and saying, `It wasn’t so bad, I feel better now and it’s safer for me and my family and for the things I want to do.’ And I think that helps other teens get confident enough to come in and get their dose.”

Overall, 78% of eligible county residents aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 70% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall 10.3 million population, including 1.3 million kids under age 12 who are ineligible for the shots, 67% have at least one dose, and 60% are fully vaccinated.

But Ferrer said the pace of vaccines remains slow, with only about 45,000 first doses administered over the past week.

The county reported another 28 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the county’s overall virus death toll to 26,254. Another 1,222 cases were also confirmed, giving the county a pandemic total of 1,467,450.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was still low, at 1.1%.

According to state figures, there were 721 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the county as of Thursday, down from 750 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 206 were in intensive care, down from 209 a day earlier.

The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in the county has fallen 33 times in the past 38 days, bringing the number down from a summer peak of nearly 1,800.

At midnight Thursday night, the county will begin imposing COVID-19 vaccination requirements at indoor portions of bars, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges. Employees and customers of such businesses will be required to show proof of at least one dose of vaccine. Two doses will be required beginning Nov. 4.

Unvaccinated customers and employees can still be in outdoor portions of such establishments.

Meanwhile, people aged 12 and over attending outdoor mega-events of 10,000 or more people will be required to show proof of either full vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours. The requirement will affect ticketed sporting events, outdoor concerts and theme parks that have 10,000 or more people in attendance.

Mask-wearing will also be required at all such events.

The requirements were already in place for large indoor events of 1,000 people or more.

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