featured graphic for Orange County Health Care Agency during COVID-19

OC Health Care Agency urges residents and visitors to get boosted, get tested, and mask up during the holidays

In anticipation of increased gatherings and travel over the holidays and due to growing cases of the Omicron variant nationwide and around the world, the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) is issuing strong recommendations for boosters, testing before and after gatherings and travel, and masking indoors.

“This is a critical time for us to use all of the tools we have available to prevent COVID from surging and potentially straining our county’s healthcare capacity,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “Although breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated may occur given the emergence of Omicron, the vaccine still reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. We strongly encourage all of our county residents and visitors to get fully vaccinated and to get their booster shot as soon as they are eligible. Every layer of protection makes a difference.”

The HCA urges residents and visitors to follow these precautions over the upcoming holidays:

  • Don’t delay – get fully vaccinated or boosted today: Everyone who is fully vaccinated is strongly encouraged to receive their booster shot as soon as they are eligible to receive one to maximize their immunity against COVID-19. Those who are not yet vaccinated should immediately complete their primary series. 
  • Get tested before and after gathering or traveling: Regardless of vaccination status, everyone should test 24 hours before and 3-5 days after gathering or traveling. Testing supports early detection and reduces an individual’s likelihood of unknowingly spreading the disease. Self-collection, at-home COVID-19 test kits are being distributed to travelers at John Wayne Airport in Terminals A and C and are available to order online at no cost by visiting ochealthinfo.com/covidtest.
  • Mask Up: Universal masking indoors is now required regardless of vaccination status throughout California from December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19. Mask wearers are advised to consistently and correctly wear a mask that offers good filtration to get the best protection. To improve efficacy, the mask should fit snugly against your face, cover the nose and mouth, and require minimal re-adjustment. The ear loops and nose piece can be adjusted to reduce gaps. Also, if deciding to use a fabric face mask, three layers offer better filtration. For full guidance on effective masks as well as guidance for improved fit and protection, click here. For additional frequently asked questions about the State’s universal masking mandate, click here.
  • Adhere to all other COVID-19 safety precautions: Limit large and indoor gatherings, keep a safe distance from others who may be unvaccinated, wash and sanitize your hands often and thoroughly, regularly self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if you are sick.

Clinical Preference for mRNA over Janssen Vaccine

On December 17, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup issued a statement in support of the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) “to give a preferential recommendation to the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for those ages 18 years and older, given their greater effectiveness and stronger safety profile.”

“We know that some people may still prefer to receive the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine due to medical contraindications or other reasons,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer and HCA Director. “While we encourage everyone to get vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine as recommended by the ACIP, the most important thing you can do right now is to ensure that you are fully vaccinated by any of the FDA-authorized or approved vaccines and to get boosted if you are eligible.”

Residents who are eligible for their booster dose or not yet fully vaccinated are 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”.

Status of COVID-19 Cases in Orange County

Between December 14 and December 20, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate decreased from 10.4 to 9.4 per 100,000 people and the average number of daily COVID-19 cases decreased from 585 to 530. The positivity rate remained steady at approximately 3.1 percent, hospitalizations dropped from 206 to 188, and ICU admissions decreased from 64 to 56 per day.

“Due to the 7-day lag in our testing reports and calculations, we anticipate that the case numbers will go back up before the end of this month, especially with Omicron beginning to overtake Delta in cases across the U.S. according to the CDC’s data. We strongly encourage our residents and visitors to exercise every mode of precaution against COVID that is possible to protect our loved ones and neighbors,” says Dr. Chinsio-Kwong.

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

This article was released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.