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Local takes part in COVID-19 vaccine rollout at Disneyland parking lot – OC’s first super site

By DIANNE RUSSELL

“It was a very uplifting experience,” says Laguna resident Jahn Levitt after she and her husband received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday at Orange County’s first super site in the Disneyland parking lot.

The Super POD (point-of-distribution) site in Anaheim off Katella Avenue and the 5 freeway is the first of five planned to be set up around Orange County in coming weeks. It is a critical step in the county leaders’ new goal of delivering 1.5 million shots per month. 

On Monday, it was announced that people age 65 and over can be vaccinated at the outset of this next broader stage of the county’s vaccination campaign, called “Operation Independence.” 

“I reached this decision after carefully reviewing cases, hospitalization/intensive care units (ICUs), and mortality data related to older adults and noting the especially concerning outcomes for this specific population here in OC,” said Orange County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau. “My aim is to reduce hospitalizations and deaths as rapidly as possible, and we must prioritize our vaccine allocation to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”

Local takes Jahn

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Jahn Levitt receiving coronavirus vaccination

The campaign name reflects the goal of July 4 as the day Orange County residents can begin lifting lockdown rules and return to some semblance of normal life. That means 70 percent, or over 2.2 million people, will have to be vaccinated by then to meet that goal.

Levitt says, “I was in disbelief that it was going to happen. It was very organized and well-orchestrated. They divided the cars and directed us to the parking places. Socially spaced out, we only had a one-hour wait in line. They announced my appointment, and we started toward the tent at 11:30 a.m. It was so easy. I had no trepidation. There was no pushing, people were respectful and just thankful. In the tent, the doctor was upbeat and I didn’t feel a thing when I got the shot.”

After the vaccination, she was directed to a tent to wait for 20 minutes to see if there were any negative responses to the vaccine. Levitt received the Moderna vaccine.

Local takes shots

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Vaccinations ready to go

Officials reported that they planned to distribute 10,000 shots from Wednesday through Friday at the Disneyland site, with a goal of 3,000 per day after that. 

Levitt has high praise for the volunteers. “There were just ordinary people and some from the fire stations. They were respectful, positive, and clapped after people received their shots.” 

As for aftereffects, she says her arm is a little sore, similar to after a flu shot.

There will be limited appointment slots to begin with through the county’s www.Othena.com, a phone app and website appointment system developed by the county in partnership with CuraPatient. 

“As soon as the vaccine supply is replenished, additional appointment windows (will) open up,” Deanne Thompson, spokeswoman for the county’s vaccination rollout, reported to the OC Register. “This whole structure now is dependent on supply. We know what we’re doing, we just need vaccines.”

Officials cautioned people without appointments not to show up at any of the sites. They will be turned away and are just slowing down the system.

Seniors have other options for vaccination. Eligible residents can contact their own doctors and health providers.

Local takes tents and volunteers

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Tents set up – with volunteers

Frontline health care workers are also still being vaccinated. Hospital workers were the first to start the two-part vaccination process last month, when OC received the vaccines. 

According to Voice of OC, the state has set a goal of 1 million new vaccinations by the end of the week.

As quoted in the OC Register, “The end of COVID-19 is in sight,” Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency director and county health officer, said Wednesday at the Disneyland site. 

“Until we get more vaccines, I would ask for your patience and allow vulnerable seniors with chronic health conditions the opportunity to get vaccinated first.”

As Orange County adds to its limited stock of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Super POD structure will allow for easy scaling up to meet demand, Chau said.

There’s still no timeframe on when the other large sites will open. Last week, Huntington Beach City Manager Oliver Chi told Voice of OC that the other large vaccination sites will be at Knott’s Berry Farm, the Orange County Fairgrounds, The Great Park, and Soka University.

“We will roll it out based on the amount of vaccine we can get into Orange County. So we’re not going to open them all up if the vaccine is not available,” Chau said.

 

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