L.A. County projected to reach herd immunity by late July if vaccination rate keeps up current pace

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Los Angeles County can expect to reach herd immunity in mid- or late July if coronavirus vaccinations keep up at their current rate, which is slower than what it was at the start of this year, public health officials said Monday.

Another 2 million first doses remain before 80% of those eligible countywide are vaccinated, and shots will need to get in the arms of around 400,000 people a week to meet that goal, public health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a briefing Monday.

More than 3 million people in the county were eligible but hadn’t gotten a vaccine as of Monday morning, and that number grew to 3.5 million following the Pfizer vaccine’s approval for use in kids as young as 12.

“If you’re one of those people who tried getting an appointment when supplies are limited and became discouraged, I’m here to tell you that getting vaccinated has never been easier,” county Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis said.

The push toward herd immunity — which is when enough people have immunity to stop the virus’ uncontrolled spread — comes amid lagging vaccination rates among Black and Latino residents and younger people.

In all, about 59% of those eligible in L.A. County have received at least one dose. But only 38% of Black people and 42% of Latinos eligible are vaccinated, compared to 68% of Asians and 60% of whites, according to public health data released Monday.

Vaccination rates remain higher among those 65 and older, with 62% of Black residents and 64% of Latinos in that group having gotten a shot. That compares to 78% of white people and 76% of Asians in the same age group.

Slightly more than half of county residents ages 30 to 49 have at least one dose, and only 45% of those ages 18 to 29 have been vaccinated, Ferrer said.

“Although 16- and 17-year-olds have only been eligible for the vaccine since mid-April, vaccination in this group has slowed since that time and we now have about one-third of teens in this age group vaccinated,” she said.

Among all adults, men also have a lower vaccination rate than women, with 56% compared to 62%, public health officials said.

“The focus from here on in for us is to make it as easy as possible for eligible residents to get vaccinated,” Ferrer said.

Because those under 18 years old can old get the Pfizer vaccine, the county plans to add a list of locations dispensing the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinatelacounty.com by the end of the day Monday.

Also rolling out on the county website later Monday is a portal where an employer or organization can express interest in having a mobile vaccine team visit a location, Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, new virus case numbers continue to remain low and stable.

This month the county has been seeing an average of virus three deaths each day, down 77% from a month earlier, while its case rate has dropped 44% over the same time to a daily average of 251.

There were 179 new infections and four additional deaths reported Monday, but those figures are typically below average due to a weekend reporting lag.

Also on Monday, 389 people remained hospitalized with the virus countywide, the same figure released Friday when officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations had reached their lowest point since the pandemic began.

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