Operation Independence, Orange County’s goal of reaching herd immunity against COVID-19 before the July 4 holiday, could be a turning point if those hesitant to get vaccinated don’t act soon. .
Promoted as a goal by which health officials would complete a countywide vaccination program, sleep quickly fades as demand for first doses plummets and state vaccine shipments are diverted.
“If we want to achieve herd immunity before July 4, we would need at least 600,000 people in our community who want to be vaccinated against COVID between earlier this week and July,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong , deputy said Thursday the health agent of the Orange County Health Care Agency.
OCHA reports that approximately 54% of the county’s 3.2 million residents over the age of 16 have so far received at least one dose of vaccine, far from the 70% needed to reach the lowest threshold for herd immunity.
Demand for appointments has dropped by 75% since April, prompting the agency to announce last week that it would close its four remaining super vaccination dispensaries from June 5 and instead , would concentrate efforts on community and mobile clinics.
Chinsio-Kwong said the agency has denied Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s weekly shooting assignment for the past two weeks, so supply would not exceed demand.
If these trends continue, the long-awaited goal of returning Orange County residents to pre-pandemic safety and health levels will not be achieved until much later in the calendar year.
“At the current rate of people reaching their first doses, realistically, we are looking at Labor Day,” Chinsio-Kwong said.
The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, which opened appointments to approximately 159,392 teens in Orange County, was approved Monday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to boost efforts. to achieve the immunity of the flock.
However, even if all children ages 12 to 15 received the Pfizer vaccine, it would only account for 4.9% of the total population in Orange County.
Edison High School cheerleaders during a spring signing ceremony on April 14th. The FDA has this week approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in children ages 12-15.
(Photo of the file)
OCHA on Thursday began offering appointments to younger residents through its Othena smartphone app, in what Chinsio-Kwong called a “soft launch.”
Due to its approval for use by younger populations, Pfizer is the only vaccine allocation the agency still accepts. A batch of 28,000 doses arrived on Thursday, Chinsio-Kwong reported.
Huntington Beach resident Emma Jeffery did not wait for the official news before booking a date for her 14-year-old daughter, Tegenn.
Born with a congenital heart defect, the teen’s health condition kept her family in needles throughout the pandemic, even after Jeffery, her husband and their 16-year-old son had been vaccinated.
“We haven’t been to a grocery store in the last 15 months. We haven’t even been to a restaurant, ”he said. “We’ve been literally like a small island in our own home.”
So about an hour after Jeffery saw people on Facebook talking about vaccines available to under-16s, he had already scheduled an appointment at a CVS pharmacy in Fountain Valley.
“I was constantly checking my tabs on the computer; it was exactly like getting a ticket for the concert,” he said. “I was desperate for him to get the shot.”
Julia Bendis, a professional surveyor living in Rancho Santa Margarita, was vaccinated at the county’s Soka University super site in early March, but had to wait much longer for her 15-year-old son, Nikolas, to be eligible for a shot.
When he heard the news on Thursday, he got online right away and scheduled Nikolas for a time slot next week at Laguna Woods Rite Aid, a week before his 16th birthday.
“If that’s what we have to get every year, we may get it now,” he reasoned.
A much tougher sell-off was Nikolas ’brother Tyler, 21, a young UC Santa Cruz who has maintained skepticism about the vaccine. It took his parents a while to convince him to change his point of view.
“We told him he probably couldn’t go to college in person or participate in an internship he had gotten,” he said Thursday. “So, in fact, he’s asking for his first dose: I’m delighted.”
Chinsio-Kwong said as the interest in vaccines dwindles, health officials are urging vaccinated residents of Orange County, such as Bendis, to start serious conversations with friends and loved ones who are still hesitant about receive a shot.
“There needs to be a grassroots effort in the community to reach out to those who may still have questions,” he said. “[Because] the community knows better what barriers and challenges still exist and needs to be overcome. “
If Orange County wants to achieve the independence of COVID-19, he added, this is the best and only hope.
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