First responders help speed up COVID-19 vaccinations in Orange County amid virus surge

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- The line of people volunteering to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the Orange County Health Care Agency headquarters Thursday, was promising as it wrapped around Jamboree Road and continued onto Portola Pkwy.

Those eligible were part of the Phase 1A group. These are mostly workers in the healthcare industry.

The Orange County Health Care Agency designated three sites in Anaheim, Huntington Beach and this one in Irvine for firefighter paramedics and nurses to distribute at least 6,400 doses. Registration and eligibility verification were required.

Capt. Greg Barta with the OCFA said his agency was happy to help speed up the process under OCHCA oversight."We want to get everyone in the community vaccinated as soon as possible and we have to do it in those phases that have been predetermined," Capt. Barta said.

Ana Alvarado a Latino Health Access employee and Michael McEnery, the Chief Community Officer of Coastal Kids, both said their decision to get the shot was easy to protect their families and community.

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"I did it for my mom just 'cause she was a cancer survivor," Alvarado said, adding, "Of course, I want to keep everyone safe around me. I don't want to bring it around anyone that could like possibly not be able to handle it."

"For my own health, but for all my colleagues, for my family, I've got people in my family that are compromised," McEnery said.

According to the State Health Department, as of the last week of 2020, Orange County had 99,100 doses. County data shows about a third of those doses as 'administered' by the end of last year. That means only a little more than one percent of OC's residents 18 years of age and older had the shot.

Statewide, we're seeing similar numbers. Data from the first week of 2021, shows about a quarter of 2,007,600 doses allocated to California as 'administered,' meaning, only about one and a half percent of Californians 18 years of age and over had received at least one shot.

Thursday, firefighter paramedics, nurses and thousands volunteering to be vaccinated helped bring those numbers up.

Vaccinations at OCFA headquarters were scheduled to continue through January 14.
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