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Orange County health officers inform health care workers on state vaccine mandate

On August 5, 2021, the State Health Officer issued two new health orders impacting workers in all health care settings:

  • The first order requires workers in health care settings to be fully vaccinated or receive their second dose by September 30, 2021.
  • The second order directs hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the prior 72 hours before indoor visits.

The OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Health Officers are encouraging county residents to get fully vaccinated in light of increasing COVID-19 cases resulting from the Delta variant. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 93.4% of new cases reported recently resulted from the Delta variant or several sub-lineages of the strain that the CDC has classified as variants of concern.

“As with many viruses, COVID-19 is frequently changing,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “These changes result in new versions of the virus called ‘variants.’ We’re particularly worried about the Delta variant because this version is spreading easily between people and causing more severe illness. That’s why it’s so important for residents who are not yet fully vaccinated to get the vaccine and to complete both doses. By doing so, you would be protecting not only yourself, but also those who are most at risk of getting COVID-19 including our elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as well as children under age 12 who have no option of getting vaccinated.”

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are still effective, but a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated can become infected as “breakthrough cases,” if they become exposed.

“It is true that no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time,” says Dr. Matthew Zahn, Deputy County Health Officer. “Yes, you can still get COVID-19 if you are vaccinated, but it’s important to know that fully vaccinated people are much less likely to become ill, be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated. County data shows that approximately 90% of hospitalized cases in the county are in unvaccinated persons, and that our residents who are not vaccinated are almost six times more likely than those who are fully vaccinated to get infected.”

COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in Orange County. Between July 28 and August 5, Orange County experienced an increase in the seven-day average case rate, from 10.2 to 15.7 per 100,000 people, with the average number of daily COVID-19 cases rising from 328 to 507. The positivity rate also increased from 5.5 to 7.9 percent, hospitalizations from 236 to 454 per day, and ICU admissions from 56 to 69 per day. Orange County COVID-19 case counts, and testing figures are updated daily, Monday through Friday, at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.

In addition to getting vaccinated, the HCA encourages all residents to continue taking the following precautions to limit the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, and to protect those who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions:

  • Regardless of your vaccination status, wear a mask if you’re indoors, around someone at risk, with people whose vaccination status is unknown, or have unvaccinated children or other loved ones at home. Additionally, masks are required indoors for unvaccinated individuals in accordance with mask guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
  • Avoid crowded areas and events, especially those that are indoors.
  • Maintain physical distancing in poorly ventilated areas.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Get tested if you are exposed to or experience symptoms of COVID-19 (you can order a self-collection, at-home kit at https://oc.care.ambrygen.com/#/cit/landing).

The HCA continues to advise all residents to refer to the CDPH’s recent Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings and State Public Health Officer Order regarding requirements for high-risk health care facilities.

Those who have not yet been vaccinated or need to complete their second vaccine dose can schedule a vaccination appointment by visiting www.Othena.com or calling the OC COVID-19 Hotline at (714) 834-2000.

This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.