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High Hopes, Low Turnout for COVID Booster

By Jorge Casuso

October 24, 2023 -- A little-publicized USC poll found that nearly two-thirds of LA County residents plan to get the fall COVID booster, although Public Health officials report only 10 percent have taken the shot.

The survey conducted by USC's Pandemic Research Center, in collaboration with LA County Public Health, found that 64 percent of the 1,046 respondents, plan to get the updated vaccine.

The poll of a representative sample of County residents found that another 17 percent are still considering the vaccine but are “not sure” they will get it.

Since the new updated COVID-19 vaccine was made available in mid-September, some 330,000 of the County's more than 10 million residents have taken the shot, County Health officials reported.

Among those 65 and older -- the most vulnerable segment of the population -- an estimated 10 percent have received the updated vaccine, a result Public Health officials said was "positive news."

The rate, however, lags behind the 23 percent in the same age group who had taken last year's fall booster by November 10, 2022, a number Health officials said was "very low" and "of significant concern."

The rollout of the fall COVID booster this year was hampered by insurance snags and supply delays, but County Health officials said last week the shots "are widely available" with "an adequate supply to give a booster to everyone who is eligible."

The recent USC survey -- which has received little media attention -- was prominently cited in a press release issued by Public Health officials last Thursday.

The survey results differ from those of a nationwide poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) that found about 1 in 4 American adults said they definitely plan to get the shot, while another quarter said they would probably get the shot.

The survey of 1,296 U.S. adults conducted online and by telephone between September 6 and September 13 found a wide discrepancy among respondents based on political party affiliation.

Seventy percent of Democrats said they would "definitely" or "probably" get the new COVID booster, compared with 24 percent of Republicans.

That could explain the higher percentage reflected in the USC poll of residents of LA County, where 49.7 of voters in 2020 were registered Democrat and 17 percent Republican, with the balance listing other or no affiliation.

Los Angeles County continues to see a drop in cases, deaths and hospitalizations, remaining at lows not seen since the the coronavirus began spreading in mid-March 2020.

The weekly report issued by County Health officials on Wednesdays found that daily average cases dropped over the past month from 382 cases in late September to 217 last week.

During the same period the daily average number of COVID positive hospitalization dropped from 544 to 369, while the daily average number of reported COVID-related deaths dipped from 3.9 to 3.3.

LA County officials warn the numbers will likely rise, since "historically, respiratory virus transmission is lower in October, before transmission begins to rise leading to a peak during winter months."

There have been a total of 3,811,975 laboratory confirmed COVID cases in LA County since the pandemic began, a number that does not include the results of home tests, and a total of 36,836 reported COVID-related deaths.

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