Orange County staff and volunteers are preparing for the opening of a mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo on Saturday.
It joins the first center that the county opened last week at Disneyland, which has handled about 3,000 appointments a day.
“Bring your umbrellas, plan rain, if you’re on a walk, take these things into consideration,” said county spokeswoman Molly Nichelson. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors from the campus parking structure from Wood Canyon Drive to a nearby fitness center where vaccines take place.
The county has enough vaccines and staff available for a safe launch of the new Soka Super POD (distribution point) this weekend, spokeswoman Molly Nichelson said. Officials have said they would not open new locations until volunteers and doses were available to make it worthwhile; ultimately expected in five places.
But public health officials are tempering expectations and asking for patience after the Othena appointment system got off to a offensive start among its target users: seniors aged 65 and over.
The Health Care Agency said this week that the appointment process had been “simplified”
For users who have completed the registration, Othena will send email-eligible groups around noon. 10 every day and warn them that an appointment is available to them.
Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the health agency and county health officer, said employees are considering a person’s coronavirus risk while being assigned appointments. Staff will also send patients to the nearest superstate, he said.
But if users do not respond through Othena within hours, they will be placed back in the virtual queue, Nichelson said.
“They really need to pay attention to the emails that come through,” she said.
The Health Care Agency has set up a hotline at 714-834-2000 to ask questions about Othena, vaccine appointments and other related issues during daytime working hours.
At this time, people who qualify for a vaccine and want an appointment can not call to set one up, but can call for help registering at Othena.
“We see that this will be able to make us more nimble,” she said.
Chau advised seniors who have problems with Othena to ask their doctor or staff at a local senior center for help.
And super sites are not the only option, Chau said. The Health Care Agency is also in the process of building smaller “mobile” vaccination clinics, which are parachuted into a day at a few senior centers and more on the way.
Meanwhile, the county is still in balance between marshaling vaccines, staff and volunteers to get doses in the arms of the county’s most vulnerable and vulnerable to COVID-19 effectively and fairly.
During a virtual town hall Thursday with Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Chau said Orange County still does not have enough vaccines and reiterated the need to let older seniors get their shots first, especially those with chronic health conditions that make coronavirus more dangerous to them.
“We ask society to be patient. Let’s give the vaccine to 75 and older and 65 and older with chronic problems, ”he said. “Let’s protect them first, because it’s them that if they get infected, they end up in hospitals more than others.”
On Thursday, Orange County vaccine administrators gave the go-ahead to resume use of the Moderna vaccine lot 41L20A, which was put on hold by the state Department of Public Health after a handful of allergic reactions in San Diego last week. About 5,000 people in Orange County received shots from this batch, but there were no known side effects, the Heath Care Agency said earlier this week.
After an investigation, state health officials said late Wednesday that there was “no scientific basis for continuing the break.”