featured graphic for Orange County Health Care Agency

Tips for Thanksgiving holiday safety from the Orange County Health Care Agency

In anticipation of increased gatherings over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) continues to encourage residents and visitors to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster shot if they are eligible, and to exercise safe precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

“We must continue to stay vigilant in doing what we can to protect one another, especially our loved ones and neighbors who are most at risk of getting sick and hospitalized with COVID,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “With vaccines now available for children ages 5 and over and booster doses available for fully vaccinated adults 18 and over, we encourage you to complete your recommended shots if you are not fully vaccinated or are eligible to receive a booster. Vaccination remains absolutely critical in helping us to combat the spread of COVID in our community.”

Today, November 19, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all adults ages 18 and over, paving the way for people to receive a booster shot at least six months after completing their primary series.

Anyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose is encouraged to access the most convenient option available to them to get their shot. For more information on where to go for a vaccine, visit COVIDVaccineFacts.com and click on “Find a COVID-19 Vaccine”.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) offers the following tips to keep everyone safe from COVID-19 during the upcoming holiday season:

  • Get vaccinated (against COVID-19 and flu), including a COVID-19 booster shot if eligible
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Get tested 1-3 days before a family gathering, or prior to any travel, even if you have no symptoms, and test again 3-5 days later upon returning home
  • If your gathering includes individuals who are unvaccinated, keep your gathering small, short, and outdoors, and wear a mask over both your nose and mouth
  • Gather outside or increase airflow in indoor spaces by opening doors and windows

Orange County’s progress toward getting youth vaccinated

Since the Comirnaty (Pfizer) pediatric dose was first authorized for emergency use (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in children aged 5 through 11, 8.4% of this population and 69.6% of children aged 12-17 have received at least one dose. Between November 8 and November 15, a total of 23,792 children and youth ages 5-17 received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing over two-thirds of total vaccine doses administered in Orange County.

“Getting this newly eligible population vaccinated will help reduce transmission in this age group, keeping schools going and keeping schools safe – leading to a safer winter and start to 2022,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer and HCA Director.

As indicated by California Governor Gavin Newsom, students attending California schools will be required to be vaccinated beginning the term after the FDA lifts its EUA and grants full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 and youth ages 12-15. (The Pfizer vaccine is already fully approved for individuals aged 16 and over.)

The earliest date in which students may be impacted by this requirement is either summer 2022 or the start of the 2022-23 school year. For example, if the EUA is lifted and a COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved for children and youth sometime between January 1 and June 30, 2022, the earliest date in which the mandate would go into effect is July 1, 2022, impacting students and school staff at the start of the 2022-23 school year. Below is an illustration of this unofficial timeline:

Dec 2020 May 2021 Aug 2021 October 2021 Between Jan 1-Jun 30, 2022 Beginning July 1 or Fall 2022
Pfizer Vaccine EUA for 16+   Pfizer Vaccine EUA for 12-15   Pfizer Vaccine Fully Approved for 16+   Pfizer Vaccine EUA for 5-11   Vaccine Fully Approved for 5-11 and 12-15   Students and staff in K-12 required to show proof of vaccination

The CDPH is working directly with school districts throughout the state to build resources to support COVID testing and school-located vaccine events for the COVID-19 vaccine and other routine immunizations. Schools interested in learning more can visit shotsforschool.org and those seeking testing resources can visit testing.covid19.ca.gov for more information.

Clarification on exemption

If the mandate is generated by either CDPH and/or the Governor’s Office, both medical and personal/religious belief exemptions are allowed. If the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students is part of a legislative law, adding to the current other 10 vaccines legally required to attend public, private and charter schools, only medical exemption is allowed.

Status of COVID-19 cases in Orange County

Between November 11 and November 18, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate dropped from 8 to 7.1 per 100,000 people and the average number of daily COVID-19 cases decreased from 257 to 228. The positivity rate declined slightly from 2.8 to 2.7 percent, hospitalizations from 219 to 208, and ICU admissions from 57 to 48 per day.

For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination and testing in Orange County, visit ochealthinfo.com/covid.

The article above was released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.