LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved her motion on reinforcing equitable access to COVID-19 boosters and pediatric vaccines.

“Disparities in vaccination efforts against COVID-19 are not new, as the initial rollout of vaccines for adults was characterized by significant gaps,” shared Chair Solis. “But after months of hard work on behalf of the County’s Department of Public Health and several community stakeholders, including nonprofit partners, faith-based organizations, and cities, many of those gaps have narrowed significantly. However, heading into the winter season and with the news of the Omicron variant, there is great urgency to close the initial pediatric and booster gaps we’re currently seeing and increase overall vaccination rates. To that end, it is imperative that we mobilize quickly to encourage those who remain unvaccinated or have yet to receive a booster to do so immediately, especially before gathering with loved ones for the holiday season.”

On November 13, 2021, California allowed COVID-19 booster shots for everyone age 18 above, as long as they met the timing requirement of being six months past the second mRNA vaccine of Pfizer or Moderna or two months after the initial Johnson and Johnson dose. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health immediately aligned with the State, encouraging booster vaccinations for all residents age 18 and above who met the timing criterion. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fully authorized boosters for all adults age 18 and above on November 19, 2021. Now, everyone ages 50 and above or 18 and above with an underlying health condition is recommended to get a booster when they meet the timing criterion. Additionally, everyone ages 18 and above may get a booster when they meet the timing eligibility. This move was made with recognition that at six months after the Pfizer and Moderna second dose or two months after the Johnson & Johnson initial dose, the vaccine’s protectiveness against symptomatic infection begins to wane.

In Los Angeles County, disparities are once again characterizing the initial response for boosters and pediatric vaccination. Of those age 65 and above, as of October 31, only 27% had received a booster dose.  Additionally, only 19.2% of Latinx seniors, 20.2% of American Indian/Alaskan Native seniors, and 22.7% of Black seniors had received a booster dose.  This trend is also replicated in the rollout of the pediatric vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds. As of November 14, 7% of eligible 5-11-year-olds had received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, only 4% were administered in the hardest-hit ZIP codes identified by the Healthy Places Index (HPI), compared to 12.5% in better-resourced zip codes. This bears out when examining the data by race and ethnicity, with only 3% of Latinx children and 4% of Black children receiving a pediatric dose, compared to 12% of American Indian, 13% of White, and 14% of Asian children.

The motion approved today directs the County’s Department of Public Health to engage with local and ethnic media, social media influencers, and podcasts, to clarify the eligibility for booster doses and emphasize the importance of booster shots; engage with community-based organizations, federally-qualified health centers, and faith-based organizations to participate in efforts to encourage booster and pediatric shots, and to partner on hosting vaccination clinics for the residents they serve.  The motion also directs the Department of Public Health to explore the feasibility of identifying existing funding to re-establish a vaccine incentive program, incentivizing boosters and childhood vaccinations; develop a plan to ensure that facilities serving the most vulnerable residents, such as senior facilities and those serving residents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, are addressed through the booster vaccination campaign in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner; regularly update the County Vaccination Dashboard to include booster shot and pediatric data broken down by demographic, city/community, and age; contact individuals vaccinated through the homebound program and proactively schedule appointments for their booster dose.  Through this motion, the Department of Public Health will collaborate with the County’s Department of Mental Health and instruct Community Health Workers/promotoras to incorporate the importance of boosters and pediatric doses into outreach and messaging; prioritize areas in the HPI+ ZIP codes and high need ZIP codes as indicated by the Vulnerability and Recovery Index for mobile vaccination efforts for boosters and pediatric vaccination doses; and report back in 60 days on the results of these directives.

The motion additionally directs the County’s Department of Health Services to ensure that their patients and families receive communications regarding the importance of booster and pediatric doses, as well as opportunities within their clinics to receive said doses.

To view the full motion, click here.