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Morning Brief: Flu Shots, Religious Exemptions, And Echo Park’s Baxter Stairs

A close-up of a flu shot needle going into a person's shoulder. The person giving the flu shot has painted nails and a large diamond ring. The person receiving the flu shot has a green sleeve rolled up to their shoulder.
A woman receives the seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot).
(Courtesy NIAID)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Sept. 17.

It’s Friday, and it’s a special day of our Fall Member Drive: we’re opening up the archives and doing a super sale of past seasons’ thank you gifts, including our legendary P-22 Hoodie, an LAist camping mug, tote bag, hat and more. Browse through the site (the holidays will be here before you know it!), and make a donation to support local independent journalism in your community.

And now, back to the news…

For months now, we’ve been talking about COVID vaccines. But as we head into fall and winter, there’s another one to think about: the flu shot.

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Our colleagues at NPR report that flu season starts in October, and experts recommend getting the vaccine by the end of that month. By then, holiday travel will be coming up, and cases may be starting to mount.

Kids under age eight who are getting the shot for the first time will need two doses one month apart, and adults over the age of 65 are recommended to get either the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine or the FLUAD Quadrivalent vaccine, which are both designed to elicit a more robust immune response.

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There’s another reason to be especially sure to get the flu shot this year: with the delta surge, hospitals are filling up again.

"You could get the flu and need care but find hospitals overwhelmed because of COVID, or get the flu and get COVID,” said Dr. Bernard Camins, an infectious disease physician at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. “And especially if you are not vaccinated against the coronavirus, [you] run the risk of your immune system being overwhelmed by two viruses at the same time."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

Clarification: Yesterday's newsletter said that a new L.A. County health order will require full vaccination at indoor bars and other drinking venues effective on Nov. 4. The order actually goes into effect Oct. 7, when patrons have to show proof of at least one dose. Full vaccination will be required on Nov. 4.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • After videos surfaced of an L.A. Sheriff body slamming a 16-year old Black student, community activists want Lancaster High School to sever ties with the department.
  • The campaign to recall D.A. George Gascón says it won't gather enough signatures in time to make the ballot, but organizers vow to start over and try again later this year.
  • Staff at bars in L.A. County will soon have another responsibility on top of checking IDs and dealing with the general shenanigans: checking vaccine cards.
  • Huntington Beach has become the latest city to try using unarmed behavioral health specialists instead of police to respond to non-violent mental health and substance use crises.
  • The California Highway Patrol still impounds thousands of unlicensed drivers’ cars for 30 days, despite a 2017 federal court ruling calling the holds unconstitutional.
  • Many states are still trying to figure out how to deal with religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.
  • A new version of an Ava Gardner mural in Koreatown features figures and people important to the neighborhood’s diverse immigrant community.
  • Vicente Fernández, an ailing Mexican music legend, has prompted L.A. fans to evaluate a nuanced legacy.

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

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Here’s what it feels like to get a breakthrough case of COVID. (NPR)

A team of Latina engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California are being recognized by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated the recall election, and now it’s time for 2022. (CalMatters)

L.A. County will ban oil wells in unincorporated areas. (L.A. Watts Times)

Ever wonder where shower water and toilet water comes from? Here’s the answer. (LAist)

California’s favorite chains, like Swensen’s and Orange Julius, have a long history. (LAist)

Mexican cult cinema is on exhibit in Boyle Heights. (L.A. Taco)

Before You Go ... Echo Park's Baxter Stairs

Echo Park Lake (Photo by Michael Locke via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

For this week’s outdoor pick, we chose the heart-pumping cardio workout of the Baxter street stairs in Echo Park. At 230 steps, the top of the staircase is located across the street from Elysian Park with access to its many walking trails. Get even more of a workout by starting at the bottom of Baxter St. Once you catch your breath, you can take in the great view of downtown L.A.

Or, you could: Head to a marionette spooktacular. Shop at a queer mercado. Attend the Hola Mexico film fest. Learn to rollerskate... and backwards skate. Get in shape by climbing a popular staircase. And more.

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