The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $4.5 million grant on Aug. 10 to assist the county in COVID-19 vaccine community engagement and outreach services. The grant also includes an incentive program for those seeking to get vaccinated but are burdened with financial setbacks.
“The vaccine equity program is really a terrific way to get people not yet vaccinated, motivated through community organizations … I’m very happy that the state has allocated this money,” Chaffee said.
“It’s not really coming out of our budget, it’s coming from state funds intended for this purpose,” he said.
Chaffee said some of his constituents are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because families living paycheck to paycheck are unable to miss work. The proposed initiative takes the agenda item a step further by developing an incentive program—$50 per shot—to lessen the pay gap for employees missing work to receive the vaccine.
Chairman Andrew Do supported Chaffee’s proposal, but requested the items be separate for the board to consider. Do also pushed to ensure incentive measures are created efficiently so those who face economic hardship will qualify for the program, rather than granting every resident eligibility.
Dr. Clayton Chau, Director of the Orange County Heath Care Agency weighed in on the program and said preliminary data shows incentive programs are effective in getting more people vaccinated.
The board was faced with mixed reactions from residents giving public comments.
“This money should not be used for more vaccine programs. This should be used for antibody testing. We need choices,” one resident said.
Another Orange County resident who did not identify themselves added: “I further oppose any taxpayer funds being allocated to target any group of people on behalf of any company who has immunity from liability in the event of adverse effects caused by their products.”
While some criticized the board for vaccine initiatives, others questioned the recent protests against the state-mandated vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.
“Why are people being allowed to protest at hospitals when our care numbers are rising?” one resident asked.
“Why aren’t they having masks wearing being forced if they choose to protest there? The rest of Orange County is wearing masks to keep others safe,” they said.
“Vaccines are key to Orange County coming back from COVID,” one Newport Beach resident said. “I’m extremely disappointed about the misinformation being spread by certain individuals of purely political interests.”
Chaffee’s proposal will be reviewed at a later date with additional information.