Drive-up vaccination
A drive-up vaccination. Courtesy LA County Department of Public Health

Los Angeles County health officials made another push for residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and for those who have already been vaccinated to receive a booster shot prior to the winter months.

“There is urgency for those unvaccinated to get vaccinated, and for those eligible for an additional dose because of their age, underlying health conditions, or occupation, to get their booster,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement released Monday. “We saw last year how damaging the virus can be and how colder weather and increased intermingling leads to more transmission.

“We are lucky that this year we have powerful vaccines that can effectively blunt transmission. However, there is only a small window of time still available to improve vaccination coverage across the county before the holiday season takes off. Let’s do everything possible to make sure scores of people don’t spend the holidays away from those they love because they are sick or hospitalized with the virus.”

The county on Monday reported seven more COVID-19 deaths, raising the overall death toll to 26,644.

Another 990 new infections were also confirmed, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 1,494,119.

Case and death numbers tend to be artificially low on Mondays due to lags in reporting from the weekend.

According to the county, the rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.8% as of Monday.

According to state figures, the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals fell to 659 on Monday, down from 672 on Sunday. The number of people being treated in intensive care was 173, up from 162 on Sunday.

About 90% of all the local deaths associated with COVID-19 were people with underlying health conditions, according to the county’s health department. The most common conditions are hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

In Los Angeles County, 80% of residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 72% are fully vaccinated, Ferrer said. Among the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, including those under age 12 who aren’t yet eligible for the shots, 69% have received at least one dose, and 61% are fully vaccinated.

Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rates, with just 56% having received at least one dose. That compares with 64% of Latino/a residents, 74% of white residents and 83% of Asians.

Younger Black residents have particularly low vaccination rates, with the youngest age group at 43% with at least one dose.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. The issue will now move to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee, then to the CDC director for final approval.

The pediatric shots would be offered under an emergency use authorization, the same authorization given to the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and to the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 12-15. Pfizer’s vaccine has full federal approval for people aged 16 and up.

Ferrer said Thursday the county will have about 150,000 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine on hand to begin administering the shots after they are approved.

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