Orange County Vaccine Update

Adam Hung, Editor-in-Chief

The U.S. has been working hard to distribute and administer vaccines in a way that is both efficient and equitable. According to the CDC as of 6 days ago, over 52 million doses have been administered, which equates to 11.5% of the country, with an additional 1.6 million doses being administered each day. In California, 13.7% of people have received at least one dose, and 5% have received both. In Orange County, around 630,000 doses have been administered, corresponding to approximately 20% of the population. Most Californians are being vaccinated at community vaccination sites, doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies. Vaccines are still in undersupply, but the good news is that production is increasing.

Vaccinations are prioritized by age and risk levels, and California officials claim that “A portion of the California population can get vaccinated now, and the rest should have access by spring 2021.” To organize access to vaccines, Orange County is following a phase system. The following information is from the Orange County COVID-19 website. Phases 1A and 1B Tier 1 are currently active (being vaccinated), which include health care workers, long-term care residents, individuals 65 or older, food and agriculture workers, emergency services workers, and education and childcare workers. 1B Tier 2 includes groups like the homeless, incarcerated, and transportation and industrial workers, followed by 1C, which includes people 5-64, people with underlying health conditions or disabilities which increases their risks for severe COVID-19. Tier 2 is the general population over 16 years of age. None of the dates for these phases or tiers are yet known. Additionally, “beginning March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the severe health conditions included in this provider bulletin.” 

It is extremely important that vaccine implementation moves as efficiently as possible, not just to protect people who are still becoming infected, but also to prevent the virus from further mutating.

Of course, it is also important that vaccines are safe and effective, and that people understand the full context of receiving a vaccine. According to the CDC, “It typically takes a few weeks after the last dose in a series to become fully protected. On the days after taking the vaccine, you may have a sore arm, aches, fatigue or fever, but these are not harmful. These symptoms signal that your immune system is developing protection from the virus.” Furthermore, “The first two vaccines are up to 95% effectiveness against a person becoming ill with COVID-19.” It is also important to note that “the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to protect us from spreading the virus to others is not yet known, but is being studied carefully.”

Lastly, the rates of new COVID-19 cases in Orange County have been following a downward trend, falling from a peak of nearly 45,000 cases reported a day in mid-January to a seven-day average of fewer than 7,000 cases a day as of February 22.