Saying the numbers highlight the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, Los Angeles County’s public health director said Thursday the county has identified just 933 “breakthrough” cases of fully vaccinated residents testing positive for the virus — out of more than 3 million people.
Barbara Ferrer said the numbers translate to an infection rate of 0.03% among the nearly 3.3 million people who were fully vaccinated in the county as of May 7. Of those 933 people, 71 were hospitalized — a rate of 0.002% of the fully vaccinated population — and 12 died, translating to a rate of 0.00036%.
She noted that of the 12 people who died, four had “severely weakened immune systems” from prior medical conditions or medications, highlighting the need for such people to continue taking precautions even after being fully vaccinated.
“Our results are in fact consistent with the state’s,” Ferrer said. “And this news is very good because these numbers show that the vaccination is working extraordinarily well to prevent infection, illness and death in almost everyone vaccinated.”
Ferrer also pointed to a pair of other recent studies — one out of Houston and another from Israel — that both found the vaccines had an effectiveness rate of more than 96% in preventing illness.
“We now have mounting proof that these vaccines really work,” she said.
As of May 16, more than 9.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the county, and more than 5 million residents have received at least one dose. She said among residents aged 16 and over, 61% have received at least one dose, and 47% are now considered fully vaccinated.
The numbers are better among older residents, with 84% of residents aged 65 and over receiving at least one dose, and 70% being fully vaccinated.
There continue to be racial and ethnic disparities. Among the population aged 16-64, just 34% of Black residents have received at least one dose, compared to 57% of whites and 67% of Asians. The rate for Latinx residents is 42%.
“Over these next few weeks as we prepare for our full reopening, we do need to double-down on our efforts to reduce any barriers to vaccination in our hard-hit communities,” Ferrer said. “Our goal in doing this is to ensure these communities are not more vulnerable to rising cases and outbreaks when there are fewer public health safety modifications in effect at the places where residents and workers are intermingling with people outside their households.”
She urged residents who have been vaccinated to reach out to friends or colleagues who have not, and talk to them “about what’s stopping them and help them make a vaccination plan.”
“If we each reach out to just one person, we together take a very big step forward in ending the pandemic,” she said.
In hopes of enticing more people to get vaccinated, Ferrer said anyone who shows up at a county- or city-operated vaccination site on Saturday or Sunday to receive their first dose will be entered for a chance to win a pair of Laker season tickets.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Lakers and their deep commitment to getting us all safely to the end of the pandemic, a lucky pair will be able to watch live at the Staples Centers all the home Lakers games for this upcoming season,” Ferrer said. “So this weekend make time to get your vaccine. Not only will you get a lot of added protection, but you may be that lucky person who gets to watch an amazing basketball team pursue another NBA championship.”
The county reported another 19 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, while Long Beach reported one, lifting the countywide death toll to 24,141. Long Beach officials noted that the death it confirmed Thursday actually occurred in December. The city has only reported one death that occurred during May.
Another 245 cases were confirmed by the county, while Long Beach reported 24 and Pasadena two, raising the countywide cumulative total throughout the pandemic of 1,238,147.
According to state figures, there were 355 people hospitalized in the county with COVID-19, down slightly from 356 on Wednesday. There were 82 people in intensive care, up from 81 a day earlier.