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Los Angeles County could vaccinate 80 percent of residents by June, officials say

Los Angeles County could vaccinate 80 percent of residents by June, officials say
© Greg Nash

Eighty percent of Los Angeles County residents could be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of June if an expected increase in doses occurs, health officials said.

"Reaching such a milestone is possible with increased allocations, and it would dramatically change the trajectory of the pandemic here in Los Angeles County," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

Such a high vaccination rate, combined with people who already have antibodies from being infected, could help the county achieve herd immunity.

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The Department of Public Health said it is projecting an increase in doses over the next month, including doses allocated directly from federal partners and the state to pharmacies, health clinics, Federal Emergency Management Agency sites and multicounty health systems. 

This week, 378,400 total doses were allocated to L.A. County. By the end of April, the Department of Public Health said it hopes to receive 700,000 vaccine doses a week. 

Ferrer said the county can expect to reach 80 percent vaccine coverage for people 16 and older in just 12 weeks if L.A. County receives on average 576,000 doses a week starting in April.

More than 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County, including 1.3 million second doses. 

The county is expanding eligibility to people aged 50 to 64, effective Thursday. Officials estimate 1.4 million people in that category have yet to receive a shot.

Starting April 15, vaccines will become available to any resident in Los Angeles County who is 16 and older. Officials predict almost 3.9 million residents will be eligible.

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In a statement, Ferrer said the falling case numbers may lead people to grow complacent, and to think it's safe to act like the pandemic is over. But more than half of all county residents over the age of 16 have not been vaccinated yet.

"Unfortunately, we are not yet out of the woods. Any rise in cases will not just force a step back in our recovery, it will surely lead to more transmission and the wider circulation of the more infectious variants of concerns," Ferrer said in a statement.

"While many of those most vulnerable for serious illness and death have been vaccinated, about 50% of L.A. County residents 16 and older have not yet received their first dose and are at risk if they become infected, of infecting others, ending up hospitalized, and tragically, dying. Let’s not gamble with anyone’s future when we can clearly see a time very soon in the future when most of us will have an extra layer of protection from severe illness and death," Ferrer said.