The site’s opening at the Orange County Fairgrounds came the same day the region entered the less-restrictive orange tier.
“I want to ask you all to encourage your friends, your neighbors, your loved ones who are hesitant on the vaccine to really come out and get the vaccine,” Orange County public health officer Dr. Clayton Chau said during the grand opening.
“This is our one-way ticket to get out of this pandemic. There’s not any other solution whatsoever. We need to do this.”
The site planned to vaccinate 2,000 people on opening day; super PODs typically vaccinate up to 8,000 individuals per day.
Supervisor Katrina Foley, former Costa Mesa mayor, said the site would benefit communities that weren’t previously targeted through the county’s vaccination efforts.
“We will be working on making sure that this site has as many opportunities as possible to reach our equity communities,” she said. “The City of Costa Mesa is one of those communities and District 2 has been left out until now.”
The county’s goal is to close the super PODs by July, Foley said.
Orange County opened its first super POD at Disneyland Jan. 13, but the site was recently repurposed for a drive-thru POD for people with disabilities.
The county also has super PODs at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, and the Anaheim Convention Center.
Orange County has a health equity POD at Santa Ana College, a vaccination site at the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, and numerous mobile units throughout the region.
More than half a million people are fully inoculated in Orange County, Chau said, adding nearly 1.1 million residents have received at least the first dose.
Supervisor Andrew Do said the latest site will add to the success the county has already seen.
“The super pod here at the Fair and Event Center will allow us to expand our capacity to vaccinate even more people as more supplies come in,” Do said. “This site adds to the capacity to the infrastructure to allow us to deliver those doses as quickly as possible once we receive them.”
Beginning April 1, individuals aged 50 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. It will become available to everyone aged 16 and older April 15.
Do also reiterated that illegal immigrants can receive the vaccine in Orange County.
“In order to encourage more people to participate and get vaccinated, I want everyone to know that you will never be asked to give your resident status in order to get vaccinated,” Do said.
Chau said, “We have made it very clear that people can get the vaccine, and there is no requirement for residency status.”