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In new milestone, California administers 40 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Syringes
A tray of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles. California has now administered more than 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

In a week of milestones, California has hit another major turning point in the fight against the pandemic: More than 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered across the state.

State officials announced the latest total, 40,098,803 doses, Thursday afternoon, two days after the economy was fully reopened. Officials and health experts have said California’s high vaccination rates have reduced the risk of outbreaks with the wide reopening, noting that new cases and deaths continue to plummet.

According a Times analysis, the doses have been administered to California residents and out-of-state visitors. About 57% of Californians have received at least one dose. Only a small portion of the shots — about 700,000 — have gone to out-of-state residents.

California in recent weeks has also reported some of the lowest virus transmission rates in the nation — a stark change for a region once besieged by COVID-19.

The numbers reflect the state’s continuing effort to incentivize and mobilize vaccinations.

After a high in April, vaccination numbers began tumbling across the state. They saw a brief uptick in May and again in early June, right around the time Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide lottery for vaccinated residents.

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In true California fashion, other vaccine incentives have included free doughnuts and 1-cent marijuana. The state this week also announced that select vaccination sites will be giving away tickets to Six Flags amusement parks, and that six new vacation packages have been added to its official “Vax for the Win” prizes.

But it’s not only the incentives that people are responding to, said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

“The lottery or tickets to amusement parks or sporting events certainly helped for some of those who may have been on the fence,” Kim-Farley said, but other efforts, including “moving away from large mega-sites for vaccinations and really getting out more and more into the community,” also played a role.

State and county officials have made a concerted drive to mobilize vaccination efforts and distribute more doses to local clinics and pharmacies. Los Angeles County this month closed four large-scale vaccination sites — at Cal State Northridge, the Pomona Fairplex, the Forum in Inglewood and the L.A. County Office of Education — and replaced them with smaller ones.

Kim-Farley also said that some people who were uncertain about the vaccine may be feeling encouraged by improving numbers and positive outcomes.

“People who were more vaccine hesitant are seeing more and more millions of people being vaccinated, and seeing how safe and effective these vaccines are,” he said. “It just gives more confidence to more people themselves to step up and become vaccinated.”

Public officials this week both celebrated the state’s progress and cautioned that there is still work to be done. About 48% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, and about 106,000 doses have been administered statewide per day over the last seven days, according to The Times’ tracker.

“We are here because of your hard work,” Newsom said during a vaccine lottery drawing Tuesday.

But, the governor added, “we are mindful and sober that we need to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, and we need to encourage people to be thoughtful, to be judicious.”

Times staff writers Ryan Murphy, Sean Greene and Benjamin Welsh contributed to this report.


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