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With All Boosters Approved, LA County Health Is Ready To Give More COVID Protection

 A line graph shows new COVID cases decreasing since the beginning of October 2021
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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With booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson now approved by federal regulators, Los Angeles County health officials say they are ready to administer the shots as soon as they are given the green light.

“Don’t delay your booster,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday at her weekly press briefing. “There is some evidence to suggest that while the vaccines are super powerful, there is some waning of protection. And for people at higher risk for serious illness, this would be the time to go ahead and get your booster. There is no scarcity.”

A slide instructing people to go to My Turn dot C A dot gov to make an appointment to get a COVID-19 booster shot.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)

Ferrer estimates that 3.2 million L.A. County residents received their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than six months ago, making them eligible for a booster dose.

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Pfizer boosters were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August and are widely available, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters received federal approval late Thursday.

About 470,000 residents received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, Ferrer said, making them eligible for a booster.

Now that federal officials have given final approval, the county will immediately administer booster doses. Ferrer said the county would not wait for action by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, but that body did signal its approval on Friday.

While some are clambering for boosters ahead of the holiday season, health officials are still struggling to convince millions of Angelenos to get their first doses. During the week of Oct. 4, just 41,000 people received their first dose.

“We're not seeing the increase in people coming in for their first dose of vaccine that would create the level of protection we wanted to have before the fall and winter holidays," Ferrer said. “Our hope is that easy access to accurate information and the targeted vaccination mandates are going to help lead to more people coming in as quickly as possible to get themselves vaccinated.”

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A bar graph showing that unvaccinated people are far more likely to contract the coronavirus and become hospitalized.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)

New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are slowly trending down from the summer surge, but Ferrer said now is not the time to lift an indoor countywide mask mandate.

“We still have high transmission,” she said, noting that more than 1,100 new cases were reported on Thursday.

Children between 5 and 11 may be able to be fully vaccinated by mid-December. Federal health authorities are reviewing the Pfizer vaccine for that age group in early November and, if it’s approved, Ferrer said 330 school vaccination sites will offer the shots to children 5 and up.

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Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.