As California requires health care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30, Orange County health officers are advising the public about the mandate while encouraging more residents to receive vaccinations.
“As with many viruses, COVID-19 is frequently changing,” Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said in an Aug. 6 statement. “These changes result in new versions of the virus called ‘variants.’ We’re particularly worried about the Delta variant because this version is spreading easily between people and causing more severe illness.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines are effective, with only a small percentage of those fully vaccinated becoming infected with the virus.
“It is true that no vaccine prevents illness 100 percent of the time,” Dr. Matthew Zahn said in an Aug. 6 statement. “Yes, you can still get COVID-19 if you are vaccinated, but it’s important to know that fully vaccinated people are much less likely to become ill, be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated.”
In Orange County, 90 percent of individuals hospitalized are unvaccinated, and those unvaccinated are six times more likely to become ill with COVID-19, Zahn said.
The announcement from the county came a week after the state announced a requirement for health care workers to either show proof of vaccination or to abide by weekly testing on July 26, before changing the requirement on Aug. 5.
“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” Gov. Gavin Newson said in a July 26 statement.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the new order to require workers in health care facilities to be fully vaccinated “in response to increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients due to the highly contagious Delta variant,” according to a press release.
Workers are allowed to refuse the vaccines due to religious beliefs or medical reasons. Those who are exempt from receiving the vaccine are subject to testing twice a week and are to wear masks at all times while within a facility.
“Recent outbreaks in health care settings have frequently been traced to unvaccinated staff members,” the CDPH said in a statement. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing infection with the COVID-19 virus, and subsequent transmission and outbreaks.”