Delta variant's spread through L.A. County has vaccine demand slowly increasing

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With the Delta variant continuing to spread in Los Angeles County, demand for vaccinations has slowly increased.

The most recent numbers indicated it has taken the highly contagious Delta variant only a few weeks to become dominant in the county.

Delta accounted for 96 percent  of the local specimens sequenced last week.

While the county has seen more "breakthrough" infections, there's plenty of evidence that fully vaccinated people are well protected from becoming severely ill themselves. Though new research suggests vaccinated people can still contribute to the spread of the variant.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the New York Times on Thursday vaccinated people who are infected with the Delta variant carry "tremendous" amounts of the virus in their nose and throat.

How many of those vaccinated people are spreading the virus is still unclear. "The contributions of cases among people fully vaccinated to transmission rates are not yet well understood," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director.

“The numbers are likely to be relatively low in L.A. County given that the highest proportion of folks that are at this point positive for COVID-19 are still occurring amongst people who are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated.”

Ferrer said most fully vaccinated people who become infected get mild or no symptoms. The county now recommends that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure should get tested, even if they have no symptoms.

After weeks of declining interest in vaccinations, Ferrer said demand for first-dose shots has slowly gone up. The biggest increases are among 12 to 17-year-olds with the start of the school year approaching.