Cars and socially segregated crowds gathered in Disneyland’s Toy Story parking lot on Wednesday, Jan. 13, as hundreds lined up for coronavirus vaccines at Orange County’s first mass vaccination site, a crucial step toward county leaders’ new goal of delivering 1.5 million shots a month.
The opening of the tent site marks a new chapter in Orange County’s fight against coronavirus, as people aged 65 and older, especially those with underlying health conditions that may make them more susceptible to a bad case of COVID-19, can be vaccinated against the disease. . at the start of the next, broader phase of the county’s vaccination campaign, called “Operation Independence.” Frontline healthcare professionals are still being vaccinated.
The Super POD (distribution site) in Anaheim off Katella Avenue and the 5 freeway is the first of four planned to be set up around Orange County in the coming weeks, just a stack of a significant push from public officials and private health care providers to to vaccinate enough Orange County residents to begin repealing the lock-in rules and return to some of normal life by July 4th.
“The end of COVID-19 is in sight,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency director and county health officer on Wednesday amid long white tents and longer lines of masked people awaiting vaccines.
As Orange County adds its limited stock of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Super POD structure will allow for easy upscaling to meet demand, Chau said.
While officials are aware that the demand for vaccines is full, there will initially be limited appointments through the county’s Othena.com, a phone app and a website appointment system developed by the county in partnership with CuraPatient.
Officials tried to make it clear that the county’s campaign is not the only option for vaccination, and now advised qualified residents that they can contact their own doctors and health care providers.
“I want to make it clear because there is a lot of confusion that the county is not the only health unit that can deliver vaccines. In fact, 80% of the vaccine doses delivered were delivered (by the state) directly to the various health systems, ”said Andrew Do, chairman of Orange County’s Supervisor Board.
Chau said the Health Care Agency recently sent a letter to private, “certified” health networks warning them that the county was ready to move on to 65-year-olds and older and “encouraging them to follow us.”
The new leg of administering shots has not been without confusion, as many health professionals and seniors said they should have been able to make appointments, either through the county’s new Othena system or through their own doctor’s office. , reported problems then. Long lines have been seen at other smaller distribution sites that are already in place.
The company is about to go into second gear, county officials and health officials said Wednesday, asking the public to forgive any hiccups while outlining ambitious goals for the coming months to meet Independence Day’s finish line.
“We have the plan, the facilities, the staffing and the will to carry out at least 1.5 million vaccinations per year. “Fourth District Superintendent Doug Chaffee called on President-elect Joe Biden to send Orange County 4 million shots to meet the ultimate goal of inoculating 2 million people with both doses – an estimate of more than one million people below county population to account for vaccine hesitation and other obstacles.
People are told that they do not visit Disneyland or other previously functioning vaccination sites without an appointment. Officials said people without agreements will be rejected and just lower the system.
“Until we get more vaccines, I will ask for your patience and give vulnerable seniors with chronic health conditions the opportunity to be vaccinated first,” Chau said.
Deanne Thompson, spokeswoman for the county’s vaccination rollout team, said of the 60,000 people who signed up via Othena Tuesday night, 10,000 appointments were scheduled for the Anaheim site’s opening window Wednesday through Friday. The goal this week was to administer 3,000 doses a day, she said.
“Six times as many people are disappointed to get appointments. It’s not because the system did not work. That’s because there is no vaccine, ”Thompson said.
“Once the vaccine supply is replenished, additional agreement windows will open,” Thompson said. “This whole structure is now dependent on supply. We know what we’re doing, we just need vaccines. ”
Along with working on deals for four more Super POD sites, county officials are planning smaller “mobile” PODs for certain hard-hit neighborhoods.
The county’s ultimate goal is 7,500 to 8,000 vaccinations per year. Day pr. Super POD site; ideally, all five sites would administer 40,000 doses daily, Chau said.
Orange County and the health networks operating within it have been allocated a total of 170,000 doses, Chau said during Wednesday’s press conference.
The National Board of Health itself has 42,000 doses on hand, half of which arrived on Monday, he said. The agency expects another shipment of 35,000 vaccines next week.
All Orange County health care providers have so far managed approx. 56,000 vaccines, according to the latest figures from the Health Care Agency, ending Friday 8. January.
Public health officials at the local, state and federal levels in recent days have decided to start the next phase of the national vaccine rollout, as the pool of those at the forefront of health care seeking the vaccine begins to run dry, while older people who are more likely to be hospitalized with coronavirus continue to strain health systems amid the worst wave of the pandemic yet.
On Wednesday, Disneyland’s parking lot was the main attraction of the closed amusement park, as visitors with appointments drove through an entrance, parked, walked up to a check-in station and waited in line. Once vaccinated, they were sent to a recovery and observation tent, where they were monitored by medical personnel for allergic reactions and other side effects.
The process was on average approx. half an hour; some waited in their car until they were called.
Such a major operation may have required months of planning, Do said, but county staff, county fire department, Disney and Anaheim staff put together the program in days.
Also urged the public not to “break down the system” by overloading Othena or showing up at vaccination sites without appointments.
“While we are still facing difficult months ahead, these vaccines, with more to come online in the near future, will win and overcome the biggest challenge of our generation.”
A Laguna Woods couple, Don and Deanna Ader, aged 78 and 75, were among Day 1 recipients in the Disneyland parking lot.
“It was painless and ready to go; it’s a good service they provide, ”said Don Ader. “No side affects for me and my wife.”
The couple’s daughter and son-in-law helped them make reservations online Tuesday night, he said.
After parking, Aders said they stood in line for just over an hour. Don Ader, who has multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions, said an Anaheim firefighter helped him through the line in a wheelchair.
“Today marks an important step in the fight against COVID-19,” said Do, “and recovers our lives and livelihoods from the grip of the pandemic here in Orange County.”
Co-author Alicia Robinson contributed to this report.