4/20 COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall Recap

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Chapman University and The Orange County Register hosted a virtual town hall on Tuesday, April 20 to share up-to-date information concerning the COVID-19 vaccines and to address audience questions. More than 400 members of the university and local community attended. 

The town hall was moderated by OC Register Executive Editor Frank Pine, Founding Dean of Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Janeen Hill, Ph.D., and Vice President of Research at Chapman Tom Piechota, Ph.D.

Panelists Included:

  • Professor Jeff Goad, Ph.D., chair of pharmacy practice, Chapman University’s School of Pharmacy and member of California’s Drafting Guidelines Workgroup
  • Professor Jennifer Totonchy, Ph.D., assistant professor, Chapman School of Pharmacy
  • Professor Tara Gruenewald, Ph.D., associate professor and chair, Chapman Department of Psychology
  • Regina R. Chinsio-Kwong, DO, physician and Orange County Health Care Agency representative
  • Todd Harmonson, editor, The Orange County Register

Key Takeaways from the Town Hall:

  • The Orange County Health Care Agency will follow CDC and FDA recommendations regarding restarting Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. 
  • Currently, Orange County has vaccinated over 40% of the eligible population with at least one dose, while over 79% of the elderly population has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
  • The Orange County Health Care Agency will follow CDC and FDA recommendations regarding expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those under 16.
  • The current COVID-19 vaccines are showing good protection against current variants; however, it is likely a booster vaccine will be needed in the future to address specific coronavirus variants. 
  • According to Assistant Professor at Chapman’s School of Pharmacy Jennifer Totonchy there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccine RNA can cause an autoimmune disease.
  • There is no biological or immunological reason to suggest that it is unsafe to mix and match COVID-19 vaccines that require two doses.
  • Since no one vaccine provides 100% protection and the potential for transmissibility still exists, experts advise continuing to follow preventative measures, like wearing a mask and social distancing, even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • Professor Tara Gruenewald, Ph.D., notes there are key psychological factors that affect individuals’ willingness to be vaccinated, including perceived threat, trust in science and the larger socio-political environment, among others.
  • For now, it is unlikely that the state or county will mandate proof of vaccination; however, individual businesses do have the option to do so, which enables them to increase their capacity.