Health officials have acknowledged that the vaccines do not entirely prevent transmission of the virus or development of symptoms in all cases but they do substantially reduce the likelihood of severe illness that leads to hospitalization or death.
Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that unvaccinated people in the county are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those that have been fully vaccinated.
"Vaccines continue to offer an extraordinary level of protection against hospitalizations and against the worst of all outcomes - passing away," Ferrer said.
The hospitalization rate for unvaccinated people is 28 per 100,000 residents in LA County, while the rate for the vaccinated has remained relatively flat at 1 per 100,000, she said.
More than 27,000 people have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Of them, 602 were vaccinated. That represents just 0.01% of the 6.3 million people who have been vaccinated in Los Angeles County.
Of those 6.3 million, 127,172 have tested positive for a rate of 2%. By comparison, the county's overall test positivity rate has passed 20% this week.
There have been 3,094 vaccinated people who have been hospitalized with the virus in total since the vaccine became widely available earlier this year.
County hits 20,000 cases mark
The county's latest figure of 20,198 new cases overall represents a tripling from last week and the highest number since last winter's surge before the vaccine was widely available.
The county's positivity test rate has also skyrocketed to 21% - meaning one out of every five people who get tested are positive for COVID-19.
There are also 1,251 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 - about double the amount from last week.
Last winter, before the vaccine was available, when the number of new cases similarly exceeded 20,000 per day, the county was seeing more than 200 new deaths nearly every day as well. On Thursday, with 20,000 new cases, the reports indicated 24 new deaths.
The new figures were released as county officials warned residents to be cautious when celebrating the New Year and try to avoid crowds.
"I'm really going to encourage every Angeleno to think differently about your New Year's Eve plans," said county Supervisor Holly Mitchell. "Large gatherings are probably not in our individual or collective best interest this year. I want you to all think about the impact your individual actions really could have on both our healthcare workers and our healthcare infrastructure."