Orange County residents 65 and older can now receive COVID-19 vaccine

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The director of the Orange County Health Care Agency announced Tuesday that people age 65 and older are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Dr. Clayton Chau became emotional while sharing a personal story of seniors killed by COVID-19.

"We need to do something fast in our community. It is not about just reopening our economy to us that's important. It is about taking care of our vulnerable community. Our seniors are dying," Dr. Chau said.

During his report to the O.C. Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Dr. Chau announced O.C. residents 65 years of age and older are now part of Phase 1A, making them eligible to be vaccinated, along with critical and health care workers forming part of that tier.

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The shift came after results from a poll by O.C. Emergency Medical Services. Thirteen county hospitals revealed more than half of their COVID-19 patients are seniors over the age of 60. That age group makes up 72% of people in the intensive care unit and 72% of those needing ventilators.

"So you see, our ICU capacity dropped because our most vulnerable population keeps going in for those beds and the thought is if we don't stop this, it will continue to be so, " Chau said, adding, "We won't get out of the lockdown if we don't do something about it."

County health leaders took action with a Sunday mobile Point-Of-Dispensing site, or POD, targeting seniors. Locations will rotate weekly through O.C.'s five districts. The first was last Sunday at the Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center, where Chau said more than 220 seniors ages 75 and older got their shot.

On Tuesday, the Disneyland Resort was gearing up to be the first of five Super POD sites in O.C.

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The view from AIR7 HD showed the setup where county health leaders plan to vaccinate up to 8,000 people daily.

It is part of Operation Independence. The goal is to complete all county vaccinations by July 4.

Chau cautioned if Orange County doesn't move fast to get shots in people's arms, doses may be lost.

"If we bring vaccines and then the state, through their system, will figure out, 'Oh, well we give you a lot of vaccines, but then you're kind of slow to get to it because your people don't want it,' then that flow of vaccines for Orange County will stop," Chau said.

The county recommended people register through its Othena app for their vaccination.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County, officials announced all health care workers are now eligible to be vaccinated. Individuals 75 years and older are next.
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