By Karen Marroquin
Signal Staff Writer
Los Angeles County Public Health officials are encouraging those susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19, such as those who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, to take safety measures to reduce their risk as the COVID BA.2 variant has continued to circulate.
According to a statement released by the Public Health Department, steps to reduce risk include getting fully vaccinated or boosted if eligible, wearing a medical mask or respirators such as an N95 or KN95 when in indoor public settings, and getting tested before and after gatherings.
The vaccine remains an effective way to slow COVID-19 spread and prevent severe illness, according to the Los Angeles County statement. It adds that the vaccine is effective in preventing hospitalization. For the week ending March 18, unvaccinated people were three times more likely to be hospitalized compared to fully vaccinated residents and six times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated and boosted. And the likelihood of dying was 11 times higher for unvaccinated residents compared to residents who were fully vaccinated.
Currently, there are about 2.6 million booster-dose eligible residents not benefiting from the extra protection of a booster dose and 1.7 million eligible residents still needing to get their first vaccination, according to the Los Angeles County press release.
To help close the gaps in vaccination coverage, the Department of Public Health is offering access to vaccines through mobile vaccination sites. This week, they are hosting nearly 700 mobile sites, with many of them being located in under-resourced communities with an elevated risk of COVID-19. They are also expanding their services to homebound residents.
For assistance obtaining homebound services, residents or their caregivers can call the Public Health Vaccine Call Center at 833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. seven days a week to schedule an appointment and for more information on COVID-19 vaccines. Residents can also visit the “How to Get Vaccinated” section at VaccinateLACounty.com for more information.
As of Monday, the Department of Public Health reported 530 additional COVID-19 cases and eight new deaths. Monday’s test positivity rate is 0.7%.