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Newport Beach firefighters receive Moderna vaccines over Christmas week

Newport Beach paramedic Adam Levins vaccinates a paramedic from Fountain Valley.
Newport Beach paramedic Adam Levins, left, vaccinates a paramedic from the Fountain Valley Fire Department.
(Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach)

The first doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus have arrived as another single-day case count has been broken in Orange County.

The city of Newport Beach announced Tuesday that about 45 Newport Beach fire department employees received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 18. The vaccine requires two doses, administered intramuscularly 28 days apart.

Officials said that they expect the number of vaccinated staff to increase to 65 by the end of Wednesday.

There are about 115 full-time employees in the Newport Beach Fire Department, according to Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles.

The vaccinations were administered at the Central Net Joint Powers Training Center in Huntington Beach, which is one of the sites authorized by the Orange County Health Care Agency to distribute the vaccines to the fire agencies in Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach.

Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles receives the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 26.
Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles receives the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 26.
(Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach)

Two other such sites exist in Irvine and Anaheim.

The arrival of the Moderna vaccine comes as part of the state’s first wave of distribution, which health officials said would go to healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and first responders.

Some healthcare workers were vaccinated earlier this month with the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Boyles said that vaccinations in his department have been voluntary and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Boyles received the vaccine on Saturday and said that aside from some soreness at the injection site on Sunday, he hasn’t felt any side effects. He was even able to go surfing.

“We had some [staff] that were eager to get it and some that really don’t want it and a lot in the middle. ‘I just want to wait and see.’ Those are the ones we’re trying to reach out to,” said Boyles, adding that he was among the first to get vaccinated. “We anticipate people starting to move from the ‘maybe’ to the ‘yes’ group.”

Boyles said paramedics are also being trained at the administration sites on how to deliver the vaccine. The training, Boyles said, would help scale up and prepare for a more effective distribution once the vaccine is available in larger quantities.

Newport Beach paramedic Joel Chidley, left, administers a vaccine to a paramedic for the Costa Mesa Fire Department.
(Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach)

City officials also announced Tuesday that the city received authorization to host community clinics to administer the vaccine, a process that will begin with those most at risk of severe cases of COVID-19 — the elderly and immunocompromised. The community clinics will compliment other distribution efforts at hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

“Providing opportunities for our residents to receive safe, effective vaccines is the top city priority,” said Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery in a statement.

City officials said the city would be collaborating with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and the county to provide clear and accurate information over the next few months about the importance and effectiveness of getting the vaccine.

Cases in Orange County climbed another 4,514 cases recorded by the Orange County Health Care Agency on Wednesday. The agency also reported 27 additional deaths, including one skilled nursing facility resident and 26 residents not living in a facility.

Newport Beach Fire Department EMS Division Chief Kristin Thompson, right, vaccinates Bobby Salerno, left.
Newport Beach Fire Department Emergency Medical Services Division Chief Kristin Thompson, right, vaccinates Newport firefighter and Firefighters Association President Bobby Salerno.
(Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach)

About 2,145 patients are currently hospitalized, with 479 in intensive care units throughout the region. Capacities have lowered to 0%, and just 40% of ventilators are available.

“From what I’ve seen, whether they’re going to receive it or not personally, [fire department staff] are excited to be part of the vaccination rollout in general because it’s another way of adapting and changing with the environment,” said Boyles.

“I know with my dad’s fire service some 30 to 40 years ago that they’d never have thought they’d be holding needles and giving vaccinations. They fought fires. It’s kind of neat,” he added. “I think we’re evolving with the changing environment.”

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 29,720 cases; 372 deaths
  • Anaheim: 26,594 cases; 401 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 6,234 cases; 100 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 5,069 cases; 54 deaths
  • Irvine: 5,730 cases; 22 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 2,277 cases; 28 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 1,973 cases; 31 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 503 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 14,868 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 21,936 cases; five deaths
  • 25 to 34: 32,355 cases; 26 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 24,740 cases; 44 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 25,303 cases; 141 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 19,379 cases; 255 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 9,714 cases; 366 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 4,829 cases; 416 deaths
  • 85 and older: 3,357 cases; 620 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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