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

The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in Los Angeles County dipped again Friday, while vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 moved another step closer to approval.

According to state figures, there were 630 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the county as of Friday, down from 638 on Thursday. Of those patients, 174 were being treated in intensive care, down one from the previous day.

The county reported another 25 COVID-related deaths, raising the overall death toll from the virus to 26,626. Another 1,333 infections were also confirmed, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 1,490,698.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.1% as of Friday.

“As we continue to experience substantial transmission across the county, it is important that those who are infected, even if they have no symptoms, isolate from others for at least 10 days to stop spreading the virus to others,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “And everyone who is a close contact to an infected person and is not vaccinated needs to quarantine and not participate in activities with others.

“This means not hosting or attending parties, going to work or school or shopping at stores. Breaking the chain of transmission requires that those infected or exposed do their part by staying away from others.”

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, which could come as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

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 next week.

According to Ferrer, there have been more than 79,000 COVID cases during the pandemic among children aged 5-11 in the county, and one fatality. About 37,000 cases have occurred in kids up to age 4, also with one death, and more than 89,000 cases in those aged 12-17, with five deaths.

“Infection trends in children follow infection trends in adults, and after a recent drop in pediatric case numbers, we’re now seeing a small plateau among case numbers,” Ferrer said. “Over the week ending Oct. 10, 12% of L.A. County cases were in children aged 5-11, and children in this age group comprise 9% of the county’s population.”

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.

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