Public health stresses importance of getting up-to-date vaccinations before holidays

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) advises all residents who are eligible for the new, updated COVID-19 vaccines that now is the time to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines to reduce the chance of getting serious illness or the flu. Had to cancel plans for this vacation.

It is important to note that unless a person has been vaccinated since September 2023, they are out of date with their COVID-19 booster shot. They should consider getting newer vaccines as soon as possible to increase protection against serious illness before spending Thanksgiving with family and friends. After vaccination, it can take up to two weeks for your body to build up maximum protection against COVID-19, so it’s best to plan ahead.

Vaccines prevent infectious diseases that can cause serious illness in individuals, especially vulnerable groups. In the first 10 months of the first COVID-19 vaccines becoming available, they saved more than 200,000 lives and prevented more than 1.5 million hospitalizations in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Los Angeles County, more than 540,000 doses of the newer COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 15% of people 65 and older having received the latest COVID-19 vaccine. For people ages 12 to 64, the current absorption rate is lower, around 5%. Public health departments are working to ensure more people know about the updated vaccine, its benefits and who they are eligible for.

People in Los Angeles County who were vaccinated against COVID-19 were three times less likely to be hospitalized and 3.4 times less likely to die in the past 30 days. While many in Los Angeles County recognize the benefits of the vaccine, there may be confusion about whether this newer vaccine is needed.

Unfortunately, just as protection from a previous COVID-19 infection wears off over several months, scientists have learned that vaccine protection also wears off over time. Similar to the flu, because different strains of the COVID-19 virus circulate each year, vaccines need to be updated to maximize protection. This is especially true for those most at risk of severe illness if infected, including older adults, young children, and people with chronic or underlying health conditions.

The updated vaccine, available to everyone six months and older, targets currently circulating strains, specifically the Omicron variant of the XBB lineage, which accounts for 99% of the samples sequenced in Los Angeles County.

As of the most recent sequencing of specimens in Los Angeles County, XBB substrain EG.5 accounts for 35% of the specimens sequenced. The next most dominant strain is HV.1, a descendant of EG.5, accounting for 8% of sequenced samples, followed by XBB.2.3 and XBB.1.16.6, each accounting for 7% of samples.

Public Health encourages residents to talk to friends and family to make sure they know they are eligible for the newer vaccines. Mobile vaccine teams are already working in the county and are listed in a search at

If Los Angeles County residents have questions about the vaccine, where to get vaccinated, or how to get tested, the Public Health Call Center is 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 provide resources to callers and help people schedule vaccination appointments, including at-home vaccinations for those staying home.

In Los Angeles County, CDC hospital admissions levels are lower at 4.2 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, based on data through Oct. 21.

Public health departments report COVID-19 data weekly.

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