Vaccine: County officials want more residents to sign up for vaccines as the state prepares to reopen. Courtesy image

With businesses preparing to ditch the mask and open at full capacity on June 15, public health officials are hustling to get as many shots into arms as possible before then.

Covid-19 rates have dramatically dropped over the past few months, but in the past few weeks unfortunately so have vaccination rates. While the County was administering over 450,000 doses a week at the beginning of April, weekly doses have now dropped to around 100,000.

Current case counts, which are around a seven day average of 200 daily cases, represent the rate at which Covid is continuing to circulate in the County’s unvaccinated population.

“Almost 98 percent of fully vaccinated people are not getting infected at all,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “When you see our case numbers, I can tell you that almost every single one of the cases that I report are people who are not fully vaccinated.”

For the first time in the pandemic adults ages 30 to 49 make up the largest proportion of Covid hospitalizations. This is due to the fact that 84 percent of adults over 65 have received at least one dose.

Collectively in L.A. County 60 percent of residents age 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. In Santa Monica, that number is 72.5 percent, but in several low-income communities that number remains below 50 percent.

With just three weeks left until the County’s full reopening, the Department of Public Health is ramping up its efforts to turn around falling vaccine rates.

“It’s clear that we need more folks coming in for the first dose appointments in order to create the conditions that can sustain our full reopening in a few weeks,” said Ferrer.

Health officials are offering incentives such as free Lakers tickets to encourage more people to get vaccinated. They are also utilizing FOMO or the “fear of missing out” as a motivator, by emphasizing that only fully vaccinated people will be able to enjoy the full extent of the June 15 reopening.

For events of more than 5,000 people indoors people will be required to verify either full vaccination status or a negative Covid test within 72 hours of entry. While everyone will be able to enjoy the end of physical distancing and capacity requirements in most business sectors, per County requirements only vaccinated individuals can unmask.

“If you’re a person who would love to take that mask off pretty much everywhere, you need to come in now before we get to June 15 to get yourself fully vaccinated in time for that,” said Ferrer.

Ferrer also clarified that even if vaccination rates continue to lag, L.A. County will proceed with the planned reopening in alignment with the State.

“Unless the Governor delays the reopening, we’ll be going right along with that reopening,” she said. “It would be great to have more people vaccinated so that we don’t have any possibility of getting back to any increases in cases.”

Clara@smdp.com