By T.A. Hendrickson
Over the past three weeks, vaccination rates in Northeast Los Angeles have barely budged, despite increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant.
In a data update on July 29, the L.A. County Public Health Department reported that 72% of Eagle Rockers age 16 and up have had at least one shot, only one percentage point higher than three weeks ago.
In each of four other NELA neighborhoods — Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Highland Park and Mount Washington — the share of the age 16+ population with at least one shot also ticked up by only one percentage point over the past three weeks and now ranges from 69% in Highland Park to 71% in Glassell Park.
In El Sereno and Lincoln Heights, the share of the age 16+ population with at least one shot rose by two percentage points over the past three weeks, to 67% and 68%, respectively.
The slowdown in vaccinations amid the rise in infections has led L.A. County health officials to require mask wearing indoors by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
The situation is also spurring city elected officials to act. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez recently announced that L.A. will require city employees to provide proof of vaccination or be tested weekly to show they are negative for the virus. City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was expected to introduce a motion directing city staffers to craft a policy requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The councilmembers representing NELA — Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León — both voiced support for the motion in comments to the L.A. Times.
The Delta variant mainly afflicts the unvaccinated, though vaccinated people are at modest risk of breakthrough infections. Vaccinated people who become infected are highly unlikely to become seriously ill and require hospitalization, though they may be able to transmit the virus.
The lowest vaccination rates in NELA are among youth ages 12 to 17. The county’s latest data show that in Eagle Rock, 56% of those ages 12-to-17 have had at least one shot; in Glassell Park, 48%; in Lincoln Heights, 46%; in Elysian Valley, 44%; in Mount Washington, 43%; and in El Sereno and Highland Park, 42%.
Part of the reason for lower vaccination rates among youth is that the vaccine first became available on May 10 for those ages 12 to 15. Another reason is that illness or death from COVID-19 is extremely rare in young people, which may lull their parents into thinking vaccination is not urgent.
But experts say it’s important to vaccinate 12-year olds and teenagers because they can contract and transmit the virus and, in very rare cases, become ill and even die from COVID-19. Moreover, widespread vaccination is the way to stop the virus from mutating in dangerous ways.
At the other end of the age spectrum in NELA, senior citizens ages 65+ have the highest vaccination rates, ranging from 76% in Glassell Park to 86% in El Sereno. Those percentages, while relatively robust, have also plateaued in recent weeks.
Without a higher level of vaccination among all age groups, herd immunity will remain elusive. Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, believes that close to 90% of the population probably needs to be immune to bring COVID-19 to a halt.
To find a vaccination site near you, click here. Vaccination is free. You will not be asked your immigration status.
Students in the L.A. Unified School District and their family members are eligible to receive COVID vaccinations at several of LAUSD’s partner-run vaccination centers, including Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights. Additional information, including an updated list of school sites, can be found here or by calling the Los Angeles Unified Family Vaccination Hotline at (213) 328-3958.