O.C. embarks on a PR offensive to persuade skeptics that COVID-19 vaccines are secure

Because the variety of COVID-19 infections continues to climb throughout Orange County — flooding hospitals and additional straining the area’s healthcare system — county leaders Tuesday accepted hiring a public relations agency to assist reassure residents in regards to the security and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines.

The transfer got here as county officers introduced Tuesday that residents 65 and older are actually eligible to obtain the vaccine, marking a big growth in entry.

The choice adopted new steerage from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and got here forward of the official advice from the state.

“My goal is to cut back hospitalizations and deaths as quickly as potential, and we should prioritize our vaccine allocation to guard probably the most weak in our group,” Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s well being officer and Well being Care Company director, mentioned in a press release.

The developments are the newest indicators of elevated vaccine availability. On Thursday, California instructed counties to open the primary section of eligibility to a wider pool of staff within the healthcare business, together with public well being area employees, main care clinics, specialty clinics, laboratory staff, dental clinics and pharmacy employees.

The county additionally suggested residents to not go to the newly opened vaccine site at Disneyland Resort with out an appointment.

The Board of Supervisors voted to rent Costa Mesa advertising advisor Thought Corridor to develop a plan to succeed in out to communities who’ve expressed skepticism about getting the vaccine.

Though county officers didn’t specify which communities they are going to be specializing in, a current survey performed by the Orange County Well being Care Company indicated that girls, individuals ages 35 to 54, Latino and Black individuals and residents of Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana confirmed the bottom willingness to be vaccinated.

“Is there urgency to what we have to do? Sure, as a result of in contrast to testing, this requires training. Training and consciousness takes time,” mentioned board Chairman Andrew Do. “You aren’t going to win over individuals with one advert, one contact, one encounter. You want a number of touches from a number of sources that they imagine in … to coach them of the method after which decrease the resistance to vaccines.”

Though the scientific proof is evident relating to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines after trials involving tens of hundreds of members, together with aged individuals and people with power well being circumstances, some stay skeptical. The vaccines have been advisable for all adults besides those that have had a extreme allergic response to any of the components.

The healthcare company’s survey, accomplished late final 12 months, decided that “security of the vaccine must be addressed in all teams, and a few teams must have the problems of defending others by way of vaccination and the seriousness of the illness addressed.”

General, 58% of the greater than 26,000 survey respondents indicated they’d be prepared to be vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.

The outcomes are just like a ballot by the Related Press-NORC Middle for Public Affairs Analysis final 12 months that confirmed only about half of the U.S. population planned to get the vaccine. That’s a far cry from the 70% of the inhabitants that some consultants estimate must be vaccinated to realize herd immunity, or the purpose at which sufficient persons are protected that the coronavirus will cease spreading quickly.

“It’s clear that willingness to be vaccinated for COVID-19 is far decrease than previous or current willingness to be vaccinated for the seasonal flu,” the survey states.

As of final week, greater than 56,000 individuals have been vaccinated in Orange County. The county has obtained 176,000 doses as of Tuesday from the state because it prepares to ramp up what has been a slower than anticipated rollout course of. On Monday, the county introduced the primary of 5 large-scale vaccination facilities — dubbed tremendous POD (level of distribution) websites — would open this week at Disneyland in Anaheim.

These eligible for the vaccine are individuals within the state’s highest tier of precedence, which incorporates staff in healthcare and long-term care amenities.

“Coronavirus has introduced each a public well being disaster and financial devastation,” mentioned Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. “With this tremendous web site, we’ll start to beat each. Each vaccination performed in Anaheim will assist to save lots of lives and velocity the reopening and restoration of our metropolis.”

The county expects to have the ability to vaccinate 7,500 to eight,000 individuals a day on the large-scale facilities. In the end, the county’s aim is to finish all vaccinations by July four, mentioned Chau.

Chau urged county leaders Tuesday to shortly transfer ahead with an outreach plan, warning that the circulation of vaccines from the state to the county will decelerate in the event that they’re not getting used effectively. Reallocations of vaccines have already occurred in different counties in California, he mentioned.

In the meantime, COVID-19 hospitalizations within the county hit an all-time excessive this month, additional stretching the beleaguered healthcare system. As of Monday, 2,221 individuals have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Officers mentioned 544 of these individuals — largely individuals older than 61 — have been being handled in intensive care items.

Chau famous that the restrictions on companies and gatherings will proceed till the county can improve its ICU availability, which stays at zero%. He choked up as he instructed the supervisors about two grandparents who have been the first caregivers to their granddaughter — an eighth-grader — till they died of COVID-19.

“We have to do one thing quick in our group,” he mentioned. “It’s not about simply reopening our financial system that’s necessary. It’s about taking good care of our weak group. Our seniors are dying and we have to do every part we are able to.”