By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The head of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department says about 80% of Angelenos would have to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the region to achieve so-called herd immunity status.

Navy veteran Faron Smith, Jr. reacts as he receives a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a VA Long Beach Healthcare System pop-up vaccination site at the Dae Hueng Presbyterian Church on April 17, 2021 in Gardena, Calif. (Getty Images)

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County Public Health Director, said Wednesday that roughly 8 million people would need to get vaccinated before the county reached herd immunity.

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Through Sunday, 6.48 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in L.A. County, including 2.3 million second doses, which signifies those who are fully vaccinated.

“Obviously the numbers I shared today are very encouraging,” Ferrer said in a briefing. “We’ve got almost 6.5 million doses that have been out there. Over 4 million people that have already had at least one dose. So we’re making great progress, but we would say in order to get to herd immunity we’re going to need to get somewhere close to 80%.”

As the numbers increase, however, vaccine hesitancy will become a larger issue. Ferrer offered a series of statistics to show the effectiveness of the vaccines. She noted that prior to vaccines, roughly one in every 10 county residents were being infected with COVID, while the post- vaccine rate nationally is now roughly one in 13,275. The risk of dying from COVID has gone from about one in 500 to about one in 1 million, she said.

“If you’re looking for a way to dramatically reduce your risk of getting infected with COVID or dying from COVID, getting a vaccine is an exceptionally powerful tool for doing just that,” Ferrer said.

L.A. County’s reported Tuesday that its daily test positivity rate had fallen to 1.2%. For about the last week it has been at its lowest since the start of the pandemic.

Statewide as of Wednesday, the average positivity rate over the last seven days is at just 1.5%.

For people who remain hesitant to get vaccinated, fearing possible side effects, Ferrer suggested that people examine other far riskier behaviors that residents regularly engage in.

“For example, the risk of dying during a 200-mile car trip in the state of California is about one in a million,” she said. “And if someone told you they were taking you on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Monterey, you’d probably go. And our chances of getting food poisoning every year is about one in six, but we’re still comfortable eating at a friend’s house or at our favorite restaurant. Meanwhile, the risk of having a serious side effect from COVID vaccine is about one in a million. We take these tiny risks every day as we go about our lives, because we know what’s on the other side of it is so worthwhile. Similarly, the return to normal that’s on the other side of vaccination is worthwhile. I hope you’ll all speak with your family and your friends about getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Ferrer on Wednesday announced another 35 coronavirus deaths in the county, raising the cumulative death toll to 23,702.

1.23 million people in L.A. County have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)