On December 1, the County of Orange health officials were notified by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) should make preparations to receive 25,350 doses of Pfizer-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine on December 15. The HCA will distribute this initial supply to Orange County (OC) hospitals for prioritization of their high-risk health care workers as part of Phase 1a of a multi-phased plan developed through the CDPH Community Vaccine Advisory Committee.
“COVID-19 isn’t over yet,” said Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Michelle Steel, Second District, “but this first batch of vaccines will help stop the spread of the virus.”
Though Phase 1a prioritizes health care workers, local hospitals will need to determine which segments of their employee population are at higher risk for contracting the virus due to this limited quantity. This may include those who work in emergency departments or intensive care units. The HCA will provide the first shipment to Orange County (OC) hospitals that are prepared and ready to administer the vaccines.
“The vaccines are pivotal in our efforts to defeat COVID-19,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do, First District. “Healthcare professionals, being on the frontline caring for the sick, will receive the first round of the vaccines. Further distribution, as directed by the State, will be by priorities based on risk, role, and equity. We will also work with local hospitals and clinics to distribute the vaccines to the general public.”
The HCA is currently assessing readiness, which includes enrollment in the State of California’s COVIDReadi system and ability to safely store, transport and administer the vaccines in compliance with the vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations. Additionally, hospitals must attest that they have a plan to distribute all vaccine doses within 5 days of receipt.
“It is important the public stay informed to make the right decision,” said Supervisor Don Wagner, Third District. “With education, we hope to give our community all the resources they need to move forward in fighting COVID-19.”
This first shipment is one of several in a planned allotment of Phase 1a doses from the CDPH if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines. The additional doses, which are expected to be a combination of Pfizer and Moderna-manufactured vaccines, are slated to arrive by the end of the month if this approval is granted.
“The first phase of vaccine distribution will protect our healthcare workers, so they may safely care for others,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District.
As more doses of vaccine become available, a greater portion of the Phase 1a population can anticipate vaccine availability in late December into early 2021. This includes residents of long-term care facilities, which includes skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, who will coordinate obtaining doses through national retail pharmacies being supplied by the CDC. COVID-19 vaccine is likely to become more readily accessible to the general public in the spring of 2021.
“Our goal is to get the vaccine distributed to local hospitals, in accordance with State directives, as quickly as possible,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “Distribution of the vaccine is going to require significant coordination with our hospitals in terms of logistics, and I am pleased to see that efforts are already underway to ensure a smooth and secure distribution process.”
- To view the CDPH Community Vaccine Advisory Committee’s Phase 1a Guidelines for California Local Health Departments, please visit cdph.ca.gov