California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required for middle and high school students to attend in-person instruction is contingent upon full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Please know that there is no immediate action at this time,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer and Director of the HCA. “The in-school vaccine requirement is dependent on the FDA’s full approval. Residents who are not currently eligible are advised to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.”
The FDA has planned upcoming meetings of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to discuss data on the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11, as well as on booster doses of the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines. The committee will also explore data on the use of a booster of a different vaccine than the one used for the primary series of an authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine (otherwise known as heterologous or “mix and match” booster).
“As changes in vaccine and booster eligibility are discussed or authorized, we will keep our residents informed,” says Dr. Chau.
Precautions for Safe Halloween
In anticipation of Halloween celebrations this month, the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) is encouraging residents to take special precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Halloween is a special time for family and friends to spend time together, as well as encouraging nutritious snacking and physical activity,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “With COVID-19, we should also be mindful of taking on additional safety measures to protect children, loved ones and neighbors.”
The HCA recommends the following precautionary measures to ensure a safe Halloween for all Orange County residents:
- Keep Your Distance: Trick-or-treating can sometimes lead to crowds when walking or waiting for candy to be handed out. Keep your distance from others who are not part of your household.
- Wear a Mask: Face coverings are strongly recommended, even outdoors where there are crowds of people you do not know, and especially for children not currently eligible for the vaccine. If there is adequate spacing outdoors, masks are not necessary; however, unvaccinated or high risk individuals may want to use an added layer of protection with a festive mask that covers the mouth and nose in the event they are in crowded areas indoors or outdoors.
- Play it Safe: Instead of gathering indoors, when possible, consider outdoor Halloween activities instead, such as a haunted outdoor play area, outdoor scavenger hunt, or outdoor Halloween themed dinner.
- Giving Candy: Distribute candy outside by setting up a station with hand sanitizer and individually wrapped candies or goodie bags for Trick-or-Treaters to grab and take to go while adhering to social distancing.
“We also want to encourage children to walk safely and not run to avoid slips and falls,” says Dr. Chinsio-Kwong. “Adults should drive safely and be especially alert for pedestrians who may be walking, riding their bikes or skateboarding during the prime trick-or-treating hours of 5:30-9:30 p.m. Wear reflective gear, walk with a group of family members and carry a flashlight to see and so others can see you. And of course, to protect one another from getting COVID-19, we encourage everyone who is eligible and not yet vaccinated to please get vaccinated.”
Status of COVID-19 Cases in Orange County
COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Orange County. Between October 1 and October 7, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate dropped from 9 to 7.6 per 100,000 people, with the average number of daily COVID-19 cases declining from 290 to 245. The positivity rate also decreased from 3 to 2.9 percent, hospitalizations from 252 to 220 per day, and ICU admissions from 71 to 52 per day. Orange County COVID-19 case counts and testing figures are updated daily, Monday through Friday, at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.
“Thanks to all of the efforts that are going on statewide to get people vaccinated and adhering to ongoing health and safety precautions, California is now one of two states being downgraded from “High Transmission” to a lower virus transmission level,” says Dr. Chau. “This means we are headed in the right direction as we fight the pandemic. Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help bring us closer to normalcy.”
Vaccines are widely available throughout Orange County for walk-in, same day and future appointments. As the OC Health Care Agency focuses on delivering vaccines and providing education to our most vulnerable population and hard-to-reach communities, individuals who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to visit any local pharmacy or healthcare provider, or go online to Vaccines.gov, MyTurn.ca.gov or Othena.com, to schedule a vaccination appointment.
For more information on available vaccine distribution channels in Orange County, please visit COVIDVaccineFacts.com and click on “Find a COVID-19 Vaccine”.