With booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines now available, Los Angeles County health officials said Wednesday they are working closely with skilled nursing facilities to ensure residents have access to the extra shots.
According to the county Department of Public Health, skilled nursing facilities will be surveyed weekly about their strategies for making boosters available to residents. Department officials said they will work to address “any barriers in requesting, receiving and administering boosters,” and will deploy mobile vaccine clinics to any facilities in need of assistance.
“We continue to work with skilled nursing facilities across the county to ensure that these vulnerable residents have good access to booster doses as soon as possible,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We urge others eligible for booster doses, particularly those at higher risk for severe illness if infected, to take advantage of the enhanced protection boosters provide, especially before the holiday gatherings that create more opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.”
According to the county, 95% of staff at skilled nursing facilities are fully vaccinated, along with 88% of residents. All staff are required to be vaccinated, but those with approved exemptions must be tested up to twice a week.
Under federal guidelines, COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available for people who are: — 65 years of age or older; — aged 18 and older and living in long-term care settings; — aged 18 and older with underlying medical conditions; and — aged 18 and older and living or working in high-risk settings.
Under federal guidelines, people can receive a different brand of booster shot than their original doses. People who received the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shots should not receive a booster until at least six months after their last dose. For the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, people must wait at least two months after their shot.
According to numbers released last week, 79% of eligible county residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 71% are fully vaccinated.
The county on Wednesday reported 11 new COVID-19 deaths, raising the overall death toll to 26,578. Another 909 cases were also reported, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,487,502. The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.2% as of Wednesday. According to state figures, there were 649 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down slightly from 650 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 183 were in intensive care, up from 179 a day earlier.