Large-scale vaccination sites operated by Los Angeles County began offering appointment-free shots Thursday, and the walk-in inoculations will continue through Monday while vaccine supplies last.
The shots are open to anyone aged 16 and older, but teens aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
The walk-in vaccinations are available at:
-- Palmdale Oasis Recreation Center, 3850 E. Avenue S;
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-- The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood;
-- Balboa Sports Complex, 17015 Burbank Blvd., Encino;
-- College of the Canyons, 25000 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita;
-- Cal State Northridge, 18343 Plummer St.;
-- Eugene Obregon Park, 4021 E. First St., Los Angeles;
-- Pomona Fairplex, 2370 E. Arrow Highway, gate 15; and
-- L.A. County Office of Education, 12830 Columbia Way, Downey.
County officials have insisted in recent weeks that demand for vaccinations is still high, with appointments at many sites quickly filling. But the offer of walk-in shots would appear to indicate more supply than demand.
The county on Wednesday announced it was offering appointment-free shots at two other smaller locations at the Palmdale and Lancaster Metrolink stations for the rest of the week. Those locations can only provide shots to people 18 and over, since only Pfizer vaccines are approved for people aged 16 and 17.
Public health officials urge everyone who is eligible to get a shot, even people who have been previously infected with COVID-19.
“Although transmission has been slowed in Los Angeles County, people are still dying every day from COVID-19,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “If you aren't vaccinated, your chances of dying from COVID-19 is about 1 in 500. If you get vaccinated, your chances of dying from COVID-19 are less than 1 in a million.”
“The more people vaccinated, the fewer deaths we will suffer. Even if you had COVID-19 and recovered, you still need to get vaccinated to have more complete and longer-lasting protection,” she said.
The county reported another 38 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the overall death toll to 23,736.
Another 439 cases of COVID-19 were reported by the county, while Long Beach health officials announced 35 cases and Pasadena added one, lifting the cumulative number from throughout the pandemic to 1,230,398.
According to state figures, there were 451 people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to COVID-19, down from 468 on Wednesday. The number of people in intensive care was 109, down from 111 on Wednesday.
Ferrer said Wednesday she believes roughly 80% of Los Angeles County residents will have to get a COVID-19 vaccine before the area reaches a point of so-called “herd immunity.”
As of Sunday, a total of 6,488,391 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the county, which has a population of about 10 million. The number of doses, however, includes people who may work in the county but live elsewhere. Of the total doses administered in the county thus far, more than 2.3 million were second doses, meaning those people are fully vaccinated.
Ferrer said the county has made great strides in the past 10 weeks to increase vaccinations among Latino, Black and other communities that have been harder hit by the pandemic. During that time frame, the county has seen a 170% increase in the rate of Black residents aged 65 and older being vaccinated. Among black residents 16 and older, the rate increased more than 300%.
Among Latino/a residents, the rate has jumped by more than 400% among people 16 and older.
As of April 16, roughly half of eligible white, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native residents in the county have received at least one dose.
As the numbers increase, however, the issue of vaccine hesitancy will become a larger issue -- potentially playing out with the sudden availability of shots and announcement of appointment-free inoculations at county vaccine sites.
Hoping to dispel fears about the vaccine, Ferrer suggested Wednesday that people examine other far riskier behaviors that residents regularly engage in.
“For example, the risk of dying during a 200-mile car trip in the state of California is about one in a million,” she said. “And if someone told you they were taking you on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Monterey, you'd probably go. And our chances of getting food poisoning every year is about one in six, but we're still comfortable eating at a friend's house or at our favorite restaurant.”
“Meanwhile, the risk of having a serious side effect from COVID-19 vaccine is about one in a million,” she said. “We take these tiny risks every day as we go about our lives, because we know what's on the other side of it is so worthwhile. Similarly, the return to normal that's on the other side of vaccination is worthwhile. I hope you'll all speak with your family and your friends about getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”