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

OC Health Care Agency urges vaccination and precautions as FDA approves Moderna vaccine

On January 31, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued approval of the Moderna vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals age 18 and older. The vaccine will be marketed as Spikevax and had previously only been available under emergency use authorization.

“This is great news to reinforce the fact that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines meet the FDA’s standards for safety, effectiness and quality,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “I hope that the FDA’s approval may instill confidence in those who are still deciding whether to get vaccinated. Studies and data support the fact that vaccination reduces severe illness and likelihood of being hospitalized. Our data continues to show that the majority of people who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and the risk is even higher for those with comorbidities or who are immunocompromised.”

Between January 26 and February 1, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in Orange County decreased from 177 to 126 per 100,000 people, average number of daily COVID-19 cases from 5,728 to 4,082, and positivity rate from 24.6 to 17.9 percent. Hospitalizations also declined but still remains high at 872, with ICU admissions at 164.

A sublineage of the Omicron variant, called “BA.2,” has been detected in California. While there are studies suggesting that it may have a transmission advantage over the original Omicron variant, all preventative measures are still recommended along with vaccination to prevent severe infection from COVID-19. To continue slowing the spread of COVID-19, Orange County residents and visitors are advised to:

  • Get fully vaccinated and boosted to maximize your immunity against COVID-19
  • Wear a well-fitting mask when you are indoors in public, in crowded settings or around others who are at high risk of getting sick from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that you wear an N95 mask or the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
  • Keep a safe distance from others outside of your household, to avoid close contact with people who may be unvaccinated or asymptomatic
  • If you recently attended a high risk event, traveled, or came into close contact with someone who has COVID-19, self-monitor for symptoms and get tested. Stay home and follow self-quarantine guidance if you came into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you are sick, stay home, follow self-isolation guidance and get tested.

Updates on COVID-19 Testing:

Testing continues to be a critical component in reducing viral transmission by supporting early detection of COVID-19 and containment of the disease; however, due to high demand for testing and opportunities for mis-advertising of testing products, Orange County residents and visitors are advised to beware of unauthorized COVID-19 tests, which may lead to higher risk of false results.

The FDA recently issued an alert warning people to stop using the Empowered Diagnostics CovClear COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test and ImmunoPass COVID-19 Neutralizing Antibody Rapid Test. These tests were distributed with labeling indicating they are authorized by the FDA, but neither test has been authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA for distribution or use in the U.S.

Authorized at-home test kits are available to order online through covidtests.gov and ochealthinfo.com/covidtest. You can also find onsite testing options through covid19.ca.gov/get-tested and covidclinic.org.

Rapid over-the-counter COVID-19 self-tests may also be available for purchase at local stores and pharmacies, allowing individuals to conveniently learn their COVID-19 status. This is different than home collection kits such as those available through the OC Health Care Agency in which specimens are collected at home, but then are sent to a laboratory for processing.

There is no requirement to report positive results from self-administered tests not performed under laboratory or healthcare professional oversight; however, anyone who tests positive is required to isolate according to the County Health Order and CDC guidelines. Positive results for students and employees should be reported to their school and employer, respectively. For more information from the California Department of Public Health on reporting test results to state and local health jurisdictions, click here.

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.