Orange County, California, will be offering residents free flu shots starting Sept. 28, county officials announced at a press conference.
The board unanimously approved a program to provide mobile clinics with both drive-thru and walk-up options for the flu vaccine, which officials said would help avoid a potential “twindemic” of the flu and COVID-19.
“I know this is the last thing you want to think about, but getting a flu shot should be at the top of everyone’s list, especially this year,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said on Sept. 17.
County health officer Dr. Clayton Chau, who is also the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA), also urged people to get the flu vaccine.
“I want to encourage everyone over six months old to get a flu shot, with few exceptions,” he said.
Chau said that due to requests from the public, the Anaheim COVID-19 testing location would be expanding its hours. The location will now remain open until 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, to accommodate those who have to work.
The county has also set up a COVID-19 vaccine task force to prepare for the day when a vaccine becomes available to residents.
Chau said the task force will study the issue based on the point of view of pediatrics, immunology, ethics, and managed care plans. He added the team would be accepting the input of a variety of community advocates, including faith-based groups.
“Our goal is to understand the public attitude toward COVID vaccines and to address the issue … ensuring the largest portion of the population can get vaccinated,” he said.
The task force is now collecting data from a survey given out to residents about the vaccine.
“We know that historically there’s some hesitancy in getting just the regular flu vaccine, and we imagine that hesitancy will be probably pretty strong in our community,” Chau said.
The OCHCA on Sept. 18 reported 247 new cases of COVID-19 and eight new deaths, for a total of 51,646 confirmed cases and 1,123 fatalities.
A total of 777,454 people have been tested for the disease.
2nd ‘Be Well OC’ Campus
County officials also approved construction of a second “Be Well OC” mental health clinic at the Sept. 15 board meeting.
The new clinic will be located in Irvine, on 22 acres near the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.
Officials said it would help relieve crowding at Orange County hospital emergency rooms.
“This location will expand and enhance Orange County’s shared system of mental health care and support by providing a second location for residents of Orange County to access countywide mental health and substance abuse disorder services,” Steel said.
“During these difficult times, as we deal with the stresses of COVID-19, it is especially important that we focus on providing these vital services now and for years to come.”
In August, county officials united behind a “What You Feel Is Real” outreach campaign that encouraged residents to care for their mental health by seeking out support as needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Be Well OC is a community coming together in common purpose—to positively impact the mental health and well-being of Orange County residents—and that is exactly the spirit of this important campaign,” Marshall Moncrief, CEO of Mind OC, said at the time.
The first Be Well OC campus, located in the city of Orange, was projected to cost $40 million. Prior to the pandemic, the 60,000-square-foot facility was scheduled to be completed later this year.