Monday, December 6, 2021

Far fewer Californians receive COVID-19 vaccines than expected, raising new worries

Far fewer Californians receive COVID-19 vaccines than expected, raising new worries

The demand for COVID-19 booster shots in California was lower than some health officials expected, raising new concerns among at-risk groups losing immunity as the dangerous holiday season approached, according to data obtained by The Times.

Anxiety is especially high for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, the groups that have the highest risk of serious consequences or death from breakthrough infections. Officials also strongly recommend that all Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients get boosted.

California Department of Health data show that initial demand for booster shots was much lower than expected. After federal officials enthusiastically urged some Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients to receive boosters, California authorities expected demand to peak in the first full week of October.

But only 230,000 boosters were given to older adults this week, just 21% of the projected 1.1 million need. And adults under the age of 65 received just 450,000 booster doses this week – just 17% of the expected 2.7 million requirement.

Even early on, demand for third doses from immunocompromised people who received doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines was low. As of the end of September, only about 425,000 of the roughly 700,000-800,000 Californians in this group had received the third dose.

Health officials across the state, from San Francisco to Central Valley and Los Angeles, report less than ideal boosters. In San Francisco, only 20% of eligible seniors received an additional dose at the end of October; in Los Angeles County, only 27% of fully vaccinated seniors did so.

Only 9% of Los Angeles County nursing homes have completed booster vaccine courses for their residents.

Scientists warn that the immunity offered by the vaccines could weaken six months after the last dose in the original Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna series and two months after Johnson & Johnson was vaccinated.

“In fact, the problem is manifested in the increased ability of people to end up seriously ill,” said Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday. “Many of us know friends or family members who also had post-vaccination infections at this point.”

With booster consumption so low, “it puts many of our seniors at risk of hospitalization in the coming months as increased contact with friends and family during the holiday season allows the virus to spread,” the San Francisco Department said in a statement. Public health warning.

“Our seniors have reduced immunity because they were among the first to get vaccinated almost a year ago,” said Dr. Navin Bobb, San Francisco’s deputy director of public health, in a statement. “We encourage seniors to get boosters as soon as possible.”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, 84, who was fully vaccinated and had cancer, had not yet received a booster shot before contracting COVID-19, from which he never recovered. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, 50, who received his second Moderna vaccine in February but did not receive a booster, also recently reported an infection breakout during the UN Climate Summit in Scotland and had a fever.

The concern is acute in the San Joaquin Valley, where hospitalizations for COVID-19 are already on the rise in a region that has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. And time is running out before families and friends start gathering for the holidays.

“We have so many people who are still unvaccinated, so many people who have not yet been revaccinated,” Dr. Rais Vohra, acting Fresno County health care provider, said in a recent briefing. “We have about three weeks left until Thanksgiving weekend, and we know this was historically when we start seeing a real surge in respiratory viruses.”

Vaccinations remain very effective, especially in reducing the likelihood of severe hospitalization and death. In Los Angeles County, out of 5.9 million fully vaccinated residents, 1.2% subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus, 0.039% were hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 0.006% died.

However, this means that more than 68,000 fully vaccinated Los Angeles County residents subsequently fell ill with the confirmed infection. Vaccinated people with breakthrough coronavirus infection are capable of transmitting the virus to others.

“When the transmission rate in the community is higher, we can expect more vaccinated people to develop infections as well – albeit always at a much lower frequency than unvaccinated people,” Ferrer said. “We can also expect that a small group of vaccinated individuals, who are likely to be the oldest and most medically vulnerable, will eventually be hospitalized. And, unfortunately, some may even die.

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“This is because unvaccinated people pose a danger to everyone. Vaccination cannot fully immunize us from the consequences that unvaccinated people are at risk, ”Ferrer said. “Their risk eventually extends to vaccinated residents as well. And that encourages all of us to continue to take additional protective measures, such as masking, to reduce the likelihood of infection and transmission of the virus. ”

Ferrer said she hopes demand for boosters will increase now that selection criteria have been simplified since late October. Beginning in late September, only certain groups of people who originally received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were eligible for revaccination. But by the end of October, members of these groups could receive boosters no matter what brand of vaccine they were made.

Los Angeles County’s goal is to offer booster doses to all nursing home residents who want them by November 20, Ferrer said.

Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster vaccinations for all seniors 65 and older, adults 50 and older with underlying medical conditions, and adults living in long-term care settings. All adults who have received a single injection of J&J are also advised to have a booster shot at least two months after the initial injection.

Those who have received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna must wait at least six months after the second dose before receiving a booster shot.

The CDC also said adults under the age of 49 with underlying medical conditions, as well as adults between the ages of 18 and 64 with an increased risk of contracting coronavirus at work or at home, are eligible for booster vaccinations. The CDC, however, did not officially recommend it to everyone in these groups.

This subtle difference could have led some elected officials to make different decisions about receiving booster shots. Garcetti did not receive a booster before leaving Los Angeles on Sunday, and a spokesman for the mayor said he plans to receive a booster “as soon as it is recommended to him.”

In contrast, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf received a Pfizer booster vaccine to complement her initial two-dose Pfizer vaccination at a press conference with Governor Gavin Newsom on October 27. Schaaf, 55, said.

Newsom, 54, received a Moderna booster to his original J&J vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, recently outlined growing evidence that booster vaccines work. Fauci cited a study published in the Lancet that found that compared to people in Israel who received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, people who received the third dose had a 93% lower risk of COVID-related hospitalization, or 92 %. lower risk of serious illness and 81% lower risk of COVID-related death.

Fauci said the dramatic increase in efficacy raises the question of whether scientists in the future may consider revaccination as part of the formal vaccination sequence.

There are still concerns that a fifth wave of COVID-19 could occur this fall and winter. COVID-19-related hospitalizations have stopped declining in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange and Ventura counties and are rising in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“It is worrying that there is still a small increase in the number of cases, and now there is clearly no decrease in the number of hospitalizations,” Ferrer said. “We have to do what we know works: vaccinate more people, wear masks when we’re indoors.”

Ferrer said she and hospitals are prepared for the worsening of the pandemic.

“We hope that at best it will be a small bump and will not be anything like what we saw last winter. But it takes all of us, ”Ferrer said. “As long as there is a large circulation of the virus – as you can see from our data – fueled, unfortunately, by those who have not yet been vaccinated, all of us vaccinated will be at increased risk.”

Nation World News Desk
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