The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is advising all residents that they are eligible for a new, updated COVID-19 vaccine and now is the time to get vaccinated against COVID and flu to reduce the chance of getting very sick or having to cancel plans this holiday season.
It is important to note that unless a person has been vaccinated since Sept. 2023, they are not up to date with their COVID-19 boosters. They should consider getting the updated vaccine soon to increase protection from severe illness before gathering with family and friends for Thanksgiving. It may take up to two weeks for the body to build-up maximum protection against COVID-19 after vaccination, so it is good to plan ahead.
Vaccines provide protection from infectious diseases that can lead to severe illness for individuals, especially those who are more vulnerable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the first 10 months that first COVID-19 vaccines became available, they saved more than 200,000 lives and prevented more than 1.5 million hospitalizations in the United States.
In Los Angeles County, more than 540,000 doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and among people 65 and older, 15 % have received the newest COVID-19 vaccine. For people ages 12 to 64, uptake is currently lower, about 5 %. Public Health is working to make sure more people know about the updated vaccine, its benefits and that they are eligible.
In Los Angeles County over the past 30 days, people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 were three times less likely to be hospitalized and 3.4 times less likely to die. While many people in Los Angeles County recognize the benefits of the vaccine, there may be confusion on whether this updated vaccine is needed.
Unfortunately, just like protection from a previous COVID-19 infection wanes over a few months, scientists have learned that vaccine protection also wanes over time. Similar to flu, because different strains of COVID-19 virus circulate each year, updated vaccines are needed to maximize protection. This is especially true for those who are most likely to experience severe illness if infected, including people who are older, very young children and people with chronic or underlying health conditions.
The updated vaccine is for everyone six months and older, made to target strains that are circulating now, specifically the XBB lineage of the Omicron variant—which accounts for 99 % of sequenced specimens in Los Angeles County.
As of the most recent specimen sequencing in Los Angeles County, the XBB sub strain EG.5 accounted for 35 % of sequenced specimens. The next most dominant strain was HV.1, a descendant of EG.5, accounting for 8 % of sequenced specimens followed by XBB.2.3 and XBB.1.16.6, each accounting for 7 % of specimens.
Public Health encourages residents to have conversations with friends and family and make sure they know they are eligible for the updated vaccine. Mobile vaccine teams are out in the county and are listed in search at myturn.ca.gov.
If Los Angeles County residents have questions about vaccines, where to get vaccination or how to get tested, the Public Health Call Center remains open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer COVID-19-related questions at 1-833-540-0473. Public Health staff can connect callers with resources and help people schedule vaccination appointments, including in-home vaccinations for those that are homebound.
In Los Angeles County, based on data through Oct. 21, the CDC Hospital Admission Level is Low at 4.2 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Public Health reports COVID-19 data weekly.