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

OC Health Care Agency Updates: State updates masking guidance, CDC updates COVID-19 Vaccine recommendations

In response to declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, the California Department of Public Health has issued updated COVID-19 guidance on masking. 

As of March 1, masks are no longer required for unvaccinated individuals, but are strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings. Masks are still required for everyone in high transmission settings such as public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities. For K-12 schools and child care facilities, after March 11, masks will no longer be required but will be strongly recommended. 

“While the State’s mandate has changed, we support the strong recommendation for masking to continue in all indoor settings as a way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to people who are at high risk of getting infected,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency (HCA) Director and County Health Officer. “We are in a time now where we all need to assess our own risk as well as the risk of the people around us. The most vulnerable members of our community still rely on us who are healthy to do what we can to help protect them. These include children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, people who are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions, and people who get sick easily.”

For the State’s full guidance, click on the following link: Guidance for the Use of Face Masks

CDC Issues Updated Vaccine Recommendations

As the HCA continues to focus on delivering COVID-19 vaccines and providing vaccine education to the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities, all Orange County residents are advised of the latest clinical considerations for vaccines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC’s updates include the following: 

  • An interval of up to 8 weeks between the first and second doses of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna/SpikeVax) may be preferable for some people ages 12 years and older, especially males ages 12-to-39-years-old who may be at higher risk for myocarditis.  
  • The shorter intervals of 3 weeks (for Pfizer/Comirnaty) and 4 weeks (for Moderna/SpikeVax) between the first two doses continue to be recommended for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised; adults ages 65 years and older; and others who need rapid protection due to increased concern about community transmission or risk of severe disease.  
  • Guidance on COVID-19 booster shots and additional doses for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and for people who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine  
  • Recommendations for people who received passive antibody products for COVID-19 treatment on when they can get vaccinated 
  • Vaccination guidance for people who received COVID-19 vaccines outside of the U.S. 

For more information about the CDC’s interim clinical considerations for COVID-19 vaccines, click on the following link: Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States

Updates on COVID-19 in Orange County

Between February 23 and March 1, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in Orange County decreased from 17 to 11 per 100,000 people, average number of daily COVID-19 cases from 552 to 356, and positivity rate from 4.5 to 3.7 percent. Hospitalizations have also continued to decline and are now at 233, with ICU admissions at 35. The unvaccinated continue to make up the majority of people who are hospitalized.

For updates on COVID-19 and other health topics impacting the Orange County community, residents are invited to watch the HCA’s new bi-weekly talk show, “Your Health Matters OC.” Episodes of “Your Health Matters OC” air every other Tuesday on the HCA’s Facebook and YouTube pages, with the next episode taking place on March 8. All episodes can be found here. Residents are invited to email questions to [email protected] before and during the show.  

The first episode, which aired on February 22 and can be watched here, features the County Health Officers discussing key COVID-19 messages, future COVID-19 plans, vaccinations and more.  

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.