Sep 26, 2022
Vaccinations Continue to Offer Hope for Minimizing the Impact of COVID-19
Vaccines continue to provide powerful protection against COVID-19, yet many LA County residents have not yet started their initial series or received any booster doses. There are currently 1.9 million unvaccinated residents 6 months and older, and of the 7.5 million age 5 and older who are fully vaccinated, 57% have not received any booster. With more infectious subvariants circulating in the county and immunity from vaccines and prior infections waning over time, it is critical for residents not up to date on their vaccines to take advantage of the new Fall booster that targets the currently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Vaccines have continued to provide protection against the virus. For the two-week period ending September 1, unvaccinated residents were two times more likely to get infected than those who are vaccinated and four times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated residents. Unvaccinated residents were also nearly seven times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated residents.
Sadly, because vaccination coverage is not similar across all age groups and race/ethnicity groups, there are some communities where there may be less protection from severe outcomes associated with COVID. As of September 18, only 22% of Latinx and Black children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, compared to almost 42% of White children and 61% of Asian children in this age group.
Young Latinx and Black adults ages 18 to 29 also had significantly lower vaccination rates of 58% and about 48%, respectively, compared to 91% of Asian residents and almost 77% of White residents in the same age group.
As we enter Fall and prepare for Winter, residents are able to take advantage of the powerful protection offered by vaccines. Those who haven’t yet received their initial series may want to get started immediately since it will take a few weeks to reach maximum protection. The 7 million residents eligible to receive the new Fall boosters should know that the new boosters match the dominating variants that are circulating, adding to their value in countering the natural waning of immunity that happens with the passing of time. Residents ages 18 and older can receive either the Moderna or the Pfizer bivalent booster, while children ages 12 to 17 can receive the Pfizer bivalent booster. Both are given as a single booster dose, administered at least two months following primary or previous booster vaccination.
What Do Boosters for Ages 11 and Under Look Like Now?
New bivalent boosters are likely to be available for children this Fall, possibly as soon as mid-October. These vaccines would provide protection against BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, just as they already do for adults. Pfizer’s bivalent booster would be for children ages 5 to 11, and Moderna’s would be for children ages 6 to 17. Until that booster is approved by both the FDA and CDC, people ages 5 years to 11 years are recommended to get the original (monovalent) booster.
People ages 6 months through 4 years are not eligible for booster doses as of September 2022, but it is recommended they get all COVID-19 primary series doses.