Just 32% of Long Beach residents 18 and older have received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, mirroring low national trends that are causing concern among health officials that pandemic fatigue is leading to fewer people getting extra protection against the ultra-contagious omicron variant.
Nationally, 40% of Americans ages 18 and up have received a booster dose, up from more than 30% last month, according the Centers for Disease Control.
In California, 38% of residents have received a booster shot, and in 19 counties, less than a quarter of people have gotten the extra shot, according to CalMatters.
In Los Angeles County, about 43% of residents 18 and older have received a booster dose, according to the CDC.
Booster shots became available for people 65 and older and certain high risk populations last September, while the state began encouraging all adults to get their boosters starting in November.
With concerns over the omicron variant, the CDC now says that all American adults should get boosters, citing data showing that people who were fully vaccinated with an additional booster dose had lower case rates compared to those without a booster.
Long Beach Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis in a statement on Wednesday urged all eligible residents to get their boosters. The city on Tuesday expanded the booster shot program to children ages 12 to 15, in accordance with the CDC guidelines.
“We’ve seen that two doses of mRNA vaccine protect well against hospitalization and death, and a booster dose increases and optimizes that protection,” Davis said in a statement. “In order to have the greatest success for in-person instruction, it’s imperative that all students over the age of 5 get vaccinated and those over 12 get vaccinated and boosted if eligible. To keep people at work and out of the hospital, everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated and get their boosters.”
As the omicron variant continues to rage across the Southland, Long Beach on Tuesday reported 1,973 new COVID-19 cases. Los Angeles County reported 34,827 new COVID cases on Tuesday bringing the county’s cumulative total to 2,046,208 since the pandemic began.
County Health Director Barbara Ferrer stressed that while the omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up hospitalized.
She said unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people, and 38 times more likely to be hospitalized than people who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot.
Fo many Long Beach residents, getting the booster was an easy choice.
Health care worker Luis Duenas said the booster was a “must” for his job.
“I truly believe vaccines protect us, along with our PPE,” he wrote in an email.
Resident Sean Horejs said in an email that he received his booster on Dec. 13 outside the Cal State Long Beach bookstore. Horejs said he got the booster to protect himself and his neighbors.
“There are ways I’ll accept leaving this plane of existence,” he said. “Face down on a ventilator isn’t one of them.”
City News Service contributed to this report.