Los Angeles County officials have insisted in recent weeks that demand for COVID-19 vaccinations is still high, with appointments at many sites quickly filling. But the offer of walk-in shots would appear to indicate more supply than demand.
The county is offering appointment-free shots at the Palmdale and Lancaster Metrolink stations. Those locations can only provide shots to people 18 and over, since only Pfizer vaccines are approved for people aged 16 and 17. Walk-in vaccinations are also available at the Palmdale Oasis Recreation Center, located 3850 E. Avenue S.
Shots at that location are open to anyone aged 16 and older, but teens aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Public health officials are urging everyone who is eligible to get a shot, even people who have been previously infected with COVID-19.
“Although transmission has been slowed in Los Angeles County, people are still dying every day from COVID-19,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “If you aren’t vaccinated, your chances of dying from COVID-19 is about 1 in 500. If you get vaccinated, your chances of dying from COVID-19 are less than 1 in a million.
“The more people vaccinated, the less deaths we will suffer. Even if you had COVID-19 and recovered, you still need to get vaccinated to have more complete and longer-lasting protection,” Ferrer continued.
The county reported another 38 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the overall death toll to 23,736. Another 439 cases of COVID were reported by the county, while Long Beach health officials announced 35 cases and Pasadena added one, lifting the cumulative number from throughout the pandemic to 1,230,398. View the latest detailed report by city and demographics here.
According to state figures, there were 451 people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to COVID, down from 468 on Wednesday. The number of people in intensive care was 109, down from 111 on Wednesday. Ferrer said she believes roughly 80% of Los Angeles County residents will have to get a COVID-19 vaccine before the area reaches a point of so-called “herd immunity.”
As of Sunday, a total of 6,488,391 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in the county, which has a population of about 10 million. The number doses, however, includes people who may work in the county but live elsewhere. Of the total doses administered in the county thus far, more than 2.3 million were second doses, meaning those people are fully vaccinated. Ferrer said the county has made great strides in the past 10 weeks to increase vaccinations among Latino, Black and other communities that have been harder hit by the pandemic. During that time frame, the county has seen a 170% increase in the rate of Black residents aged 65 and older being vaccinated. Among black residents 16 and older, the rate increased more than 300%.
Among Latino/a residents, the rate has jumped by more than 400% among people 16 and older. As of April 16, roughly half of eligible white, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native residents in the county have received at least one dose. As the numbers increase, however, the issue of vaccine hesitancy will become a larger issue — potentially playing out with the sudden availability of shots and announcement of appointment-free inoculations at county vaccine sites.
Hoping to dispel fears about the vaccine, Ferrer suggested Wednesday that people examine other far riskier behaviors that residents regularly engage in.
“For example, the risk of dying during a 200-mile car trip in the state of California is about one in a million,” she said. “And if someone told you they were taking you on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Monterey, you’d probably go. And our chances of getting food poisoning every year is about one in six, but we’re still comfortable eating at a friend’s house or at our favorite restaurant.
“Meanwhile, the risk of having a serious side effect from COVID vaccine is about one in a million,” she said. “We take these tiny risks every day as we go about our lives, because we know what’s on the other side of it is so worthwhile. Similarly, the return to normal that’s on the other side of vaccination is worthwhile. I hope you’ll all speak with your family and your friends about getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”