More than 620,000 Orange County residents have been infected with COVID-19. That is the number of reported cases in Orange County. (The thousands of residents who have tested positive for the virus through a test taken at home are not included in that number.)
Although Irvine is rich in resources and therefore has been much better protected than most other cities in the County, about 15% of our residents have contracted the virus and our community has tragically lost 163 Irvine residents to this horrible disease.
Currently, the predominant U.S. COVID-19 Omicron subvariant is BA.5. However, the even faster-spreading BA.2.75 variant is now becoming a concern.
On July 15th, the LA Times reported that due to Orange County’s “high community transmission” level, the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, Dr. Clayton Chau issued a statement: “To protect those at high risk, we are recommending that OC residents continue masking in public, indoor settings.” UCI will also re-implement its universal masking policy, effective Monday (July 18th).
While fully vaccinated age-eligible individuals are less likely to experience severe disease requiring hospitalization, hundreds and hundreds of new cases and re-infections are being reported across Orange County every day. Unvaccinated individuals are 5 times more likely to become infected than those who are vaccinated/boosted.
The fact is that until more people are vaccinated, the virus will continue to mutate and new variants will emerge … requiring new, more powerful vaccines to be developed. That’s why I continue to advocate for everyone who is eligible to do your part to stop the spread of the disease through vaccination.
According to Children and COVID-19: State Level Data Report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), COVID-19 cases among children spiked earlier this year during the Omicron variant winter surge and continue to be higher than the number reported one year ago, in July 2021. The report states that 13.8 million American children have been infected with the virus — that equates to 18.7% of all cases. Of most concern is the fact that we do not yet know the long-term effects the virus has on children.
Here is the good news! An EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) of the vaccine has recently been issued for younger children, 6 months to 5 years of age, who do not have medical contraindications. While adults and older children have been protected for some time now, our very youngest Irvine neighbors have remained vulnerable and at an increased risk of being infected.
Although some parents may be hesitant about vaccinating young children, I can assure you as a pediatrician, a mother and a grandmother, that these vaccines have been vigorously tested for safety. That’s why my family has been vaccinated/boosted.
Last week, the Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP-OC) hosted a webinar to answer questions from concerned parents, grandparents and caregivers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine for children. Click here to watch that webinar.
AAP-OC has also posted a useful FAQ page that answers questions about vaccinating children.
I’ve lived here in Irvine since the 1970s and one of the things that I love most about our City is the sense of community. Neighbors look out for one another.
Right now, it’s critical that we continue to care for our neighbors by doing our small part to stop the spread of the virus. For example, many members of our Irvine community — myself included — have continued to wear masks in public to prevent us from becoming vectors of disease transmission. It’s such an easy thing to do and this simple act of kindness and respect for others makes a real difference in decreasing transmission rates.
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