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Los Angeles County officials report a steady decline in COVID-19 cases as they insist on vaccinations for children

On Sunday, Los Angeles County officials reported 240 new cases of coronavirus and seven new deaths, reflecting the continuing decline in the spread of the infection as the local vaccination campaign builds.

So far, just over half of Los Angeles County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, totaling 8.7 million doses, according to a tracker in The Times. That’s just over 47% of Americans across the country who have received at least one dose.

But as the demand for vaccines begins to wane, health officials are urging parents to bring their children up for immunization after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 1

2 to 15.

There are 2.1 million Californians in this age group, and vaccination in this group could significantly slow the pandemic, experts say. Coronavirus cases have been on the rise among younger people in recent weeks, both in California and nationally.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart and permission from a guardian. COVID-19 vaccines are free and accessible to everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

Officials say the increase in vaccinations will protect children from contracting the virus and infecting others, and will help efforts to achieve herd immunity. Vaccination of adolescents will also help protect children 11 years of age and younger, including babies and young children who are unlikely to have access to the vaccine for months.

In addition, vaccines will protect young people from a rare but serious and potentially fatal complication associated with COVID-19, known as multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C.

The syndrome can cause inflammation in parts of a child’s body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal tract. Of California’s 508 MISC-C cases, 21 have resulted in deaths, including two in Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles officials also said Sunday that 325 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a significant drop from the peak of more than 8,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in January during the region’s winter high tide.

The virus has receded rapidly in the region over the past few months, allowing the economy to open wide and hope to return to some kind of normalcy by summer.

In terms of coronavirus cases, California is already close to the bottom of the nation. With increasing vaccinations, officials estimate that the county could reach herd immunity – with about 80% of the population eligible for vaccinations – by July.

The Times writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.

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