Orange County COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Lag Hampers Distribution Efforts

January 28, 2021 Updated: February 1, 2021

Orange County’s COVID-19 vaccine lines will likely get longer as the area struggles to obtain the stockpile it needs to increase its inoculation efforts.

“We have the bandwidth to be able to set up multiple super-pod sites, but our frustration as a county is that we don’t have any guarantee of getting significant doses of vaccines, either the Pfizer or the Moderna, into the county,” Supervisor Lisa Bartlett told The Epoch Times.

“As soon as we know our allotment, we start scheduling appointments immediately. So, we can only schedule appointments though for the amount of vaccine doses that we receive from the state.”

More challenges could be on the horizon: Bartlett said there could be a supply lag coming soon, as many future doses that arrive to Orange County from the state will be reserved for those who are due for their second dose. (The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses to be fully effective.)

To further complicate the rollout, a second vaccination tier is underway even though the county hasn’t finished vaccinating its top tier, Bartlett said.

Counties haven’t received extra doses to make up for the new state-mandated phase, Bartlett said, adding it could cause residents who were just notified that they are eligible to think they can get the vaccine the next day, even though that likely isn’t the case.

Technological Challenges

It’s no secret that the county’s rollout of its scheduling platform, Othena, has posed its own set of problems. Users have struggled to make appointments on the system, and complained of crashes.

“They’re continually fixing some of the glitches in the software system itself,” Bartlett said. “With any new software system, you’re going to have some glitches from time to time.”

The supervisor was unsure if the county would still be able to meet its deadline of vaccinating all eligible people by its initial July 4 deadline, saying that depends on how many doses the state will give to the county.

A 72-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Epoch Times that she was getting vaccinated on Jan. 28 at the UCI Bren Center, but her 84-year-old husband has been unable to get inoculated, due to not being a UCI patient.

“I’m still trying to get an appointment somewhere else for [my husband], the woman said, noting that she has tried going through OC’s Othena app without success.

She said she sometimes checks the Othena multiple times a day to try and get her husband a vaccine, but there haven’t been any time slots available.

“I’ve had friends who go on [Othena] at 5:30 in the morning, but at this point, I haven’t been doing that,” she said. “I had another friend who got the email (from Othena that vaccines were available) and went on to make an appointment and then there weren’t any left, so you know, it’s hit or miss.”

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis