Orange County health officials are continuing to expand vaccination efforts as the region approaches a new inoculation milestone.
More than 476,000 people had been fully vaccinated in Orange County on March 29, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control Prevention data. It means about 19 percent of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
More than 260,000 fully inoculated individuals are older than 65, meaning more than half of Orange County’s seniors are fully inoculated.
County officials are continuing to expand inoculation efforts with the March 31 opening of a new super point of distribution (POD) at the Costa Mesa Fair and Event Center.
“As more people get their doses, I expect to see a return to normal life in the near future,” Supervisor Don Wagner told The Epoch Times on March 29.
“I offer my full support to the county for taking the initiative to expand our vaccine rollout, as another site is another opportunity to overcome the challenges of this pandemic.”
The site will have walk-up and drive-through appointments, Supervisor Katrina Foley said.
She would also like to have a no-appointment option, “which will help us reach the more vulnerable communities” who struggle with making an appointment through Othena, the county’s scheduling platform.
The latest super POD opens a day before vaccines open up to those aged 50 and older, on April 1.
Mobile Clinics Reach the ‘Hard to Reach’
A mobile vaccination clinic opened March 28 that was intended to vaccinate those that are “hard to reach, particularly black, Asian, and Hispanic individuals,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
“Our highest priority is reaching people that can’t go to one of these super sites,” Chaffee said in a press video. “They may be shut in. They may be unable to use a computer. There may be some fear of going out too far away. … We need to reach out to those who need some help.”
The vaccine site was set up for the day, distributing Moderna vaccines. The clinic is expected to return in four weeks to provide the second dose.
Rev. Chineta Goodjoin of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Anaheim said he hoped to appease fears for those reluctant to receive the medicine.
“People just aren’t sure if the shot is right for them,” she said in a press video. “Some people are scared that the shot might have things in it that would hurt their bodies. When people see their pastors doing it and members of the church are also getting the shot, it makes a difference in building up confidence and affirmation and what it can do for healing.”
The clinic was sponsored by the Orange County Health Care Agency and five black churches.
While super PODs vaccinate up to 8,000 people per day, Chaffee said, these smaller PODs can vaccinate up to 500 people per day.
“Our biggest issue remains getting enough vaccines,” Chaffee said.
Starting April 15, anyone 16 or older will be eligible for inoculation, and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she was pleased the county was expanding its operations before vaccines open up to more people.
“With the new eligibility criteria coming online April 1 and April 15, we expect to see a significant growth in the number of people wanting to be vaccinated,” Bartlett told The Epoch Times. “The ability for this site to function as designated will be dependent on an increased vaccine supply.”
As of March 29, about 15 percent of Orange County’s total population had completed their vaccination schedules.
With files from City News Service