From Staff Reports
The Orange County Health Department has announced its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, breaking down the community into several separate tiers.
“A tested, safe and effective vaccine will be available to all who want it, but supplies will be limited at first,” said Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. “Although the vaccines were developed quickly, they were built upon years of work in developing vaccines for similar viruses.”
According to a department news release, the vaccine will first be distributed in the first phase to every health care worker at high risk for exposure to COVID-19. This includes doctors, nurses and all who interact and care for patients with COVID-19, including those who clean areas used by patients, and those giving vaccines to these workers.
The first phase also includes long-term care staff and residents as well as people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.
Phase 1b will include adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, including conditions like cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
This phase will also include adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers (police, food processing, teachers), health care workers and those living in prisons, homeless shelters, migrant and fishery housing who have two or more chronic conditions. Those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters, regardless of chronic conditions, will also be vaccinated in this phase.
Phase 2 will focus on adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness. This includes essential frontline workers, health care workers and those living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant and fishery housing. Adults 65 and older will be vaccinated in Phase 2 as well as adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC.
Phase 3 will be for students and critical industry workers. This includes college and university students, K-12 students when there is an approved vaccine for children and those that are employed in jobs that are critical to society but are at a lower risk of exposure.
Phase 4 will be for everyone else who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.
The prioritization plan is based on an independent COVID Vaccine Advisory Committee guidance along with guidance from the National Academy of Medicine on equitable distribution of vaccine.