Comments Off on Pace of coronavirus vaccination quickens in Orange County

Over the past pandemic year, big numbers have mostly meant bad news. But when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, the higher the number the better.

Some 533,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which both require a second dose a few weeks after the first, had been administered in Orange County by Sunday, Feb. 14, according to the state Department of Public Health.

At least 306,000 people who live or work in Orange County had received at least one dose by Monday, Feb. 8, according to the OC Health Care Agency’s latest available data.

Vaccinations have steadily sped up over the two months since they began in Orange County. As of last week, about 15,000 were being administered per day. A month ago, eligibility in the county was expanded from frontline health care workers and those in long-term care facilities to seniors 65 and older as well.

With vaccination super sites in Anaheim and Aliso Viejo and roaming pop-up mobile clinics, the county Health Care Agency has borne the brunt of bristling demand for COVID-19 immunization as traditional health care providers rev up their own drives.

By Feb. 8, the Health Care Agency led other entities in vaccinations by a wide margin, according to the agency’s data. Its campaign accounted for about 109,000 doses administered in Orange County.

In second was pharmacy giant CVS, which had given about 33,000 doses (the federal government tapped pharmacies early on to inoculate residents of long-term care facilities, they only just transitioned to seniors in general); in third was Kaiser Permanente with 30,000 doses.

Despite some growing pains, about a third of the 649,000 people now registered on Othena, the county’s vaccine appointment system, have been vaccinated, the website’s data shows.

Last week, officials added a now serving tracker to the Othena website. On Monday, Feb. 15, appointments were being scheduled for people who signed up on or before Jan. 23.

Now Orange County’s largest health networks’ campaigns are picking up steam in vaccinating seniors.

In an email Friday to members across Southern California, Kaiser Permanente said it would soon begin inviting its patients ages 65 to 74 to receive the shots, “starting with people at the highest risk of exposure or complications due to COVID-19.”

The health network started administering shots to members age 75 and older in mid-January.

“As supply increases, we’ll continue to expand priority groups to include more age groups, risk factors, and occupations as directed by the state,” the email said.

On Friday, state health officials announced that starting March 15, vaccine administrators could start inoculating people ages 16 to 64 with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of having a deadly case of COVID-19.

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