Los Angeles County’s top health officials rolled up their sleeves and received updated COVID-19 booster shots Wednesday as they urged residents — particularly those in groups at risk of severe illness from infection — to receive the new inoculations now that they are available locally.
Ferrer said the updated booster shot, which is engineered to specifically defend against currently circulating variations of COVID-19, is slowly becoming more widely available, and the county expects that in the coming weeks, the vaccinations should be available at more than 1,000 sites in the county. She acknowledged that COVID hospitalization and death numbers remain low, but added, “They are not insignificant.”
“Our own (local) data for the past 90 days shows that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 were three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated,” Ferrer said. “This new vaccine is estimated to prevent about 400,000 hospitalizations and 40,000 deaths over the next two years. In L.A. County, we’ve also seen that certain groups of people are more vulnerable for severe illness from COVID-19. And this continues to be true, especially for older persons and people who are Black and Brown.”
While vaccination will not necessary prevent someone from becoming infected, health officials said the shots are effective at preventing patients from becoming severely sick or dying from the virus. Ferrer said hospitalization rates due to the virus remain elevated among Black residents, and among residents who are 65 years old or older. The rates are even higher for people aged 80 and older.
“Because (vaccine) availability is less than we expected at this point, we do want to emphasize that people in those higher risk groups should make their appointment or visit a site to get vaccinated earlier rather than later to make sure they have increased protection if transmission goes up,” Ferrer said.
Residents can get real-time information on vaccine availability and vaccination locations online at ph.lacounty.gov/vaccines. Ferrer noted that the vaccinations are provided for free at all county-operated vaccination sites. Free vaccinations will also be available at many sites for people who are uninsured or under-insured, she said.
People who have insurance should be able to receive the shots without any out-of-pocket costs, but Ferrer said people should check with their insurance company to determine if they need to find an in-network provider to receive a cost-free shot.