Orange County Launches Latest Vaccine Super POD, Despite Supply Shortage

Orange County Launches Latest Vaccine Super POD, Despite Supply Shortage
The Orange County Health Care Agency opened its second super point of distribution at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Jan. 23, 2021. (Courtesy the County of Orange)

Orange County needs enough supply to inoculate 600,000 people in order to push through the first tier of its vaccination schedule, its top doctor said.

Speaking during a Jan. 23 press conference to announce the opening of the county’s latest super point of distribution (POD), Dr. Clayton Chau said bolstering its supply has been a challenge.

Of those who qualify for the vaccine through the 1A tier, about 55,000 have received a shot through Orange County Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Othena scheduling platform. Another 62,316 are booked to receive one. (The figures don't include those who were inoculated at private health care facilities.)

Orange County currently has 66,000 vaccines at its super PODs.

“It is important to note we have a limited supply still,” Chau, director of the HCA, said. “So what does that mean? It means that we need to work harder to get more vaccines to our residents, particularly to those in the 65-plus category.

“Please know my staff and I have been working tirelessly with our state partners to try to bring more vaccine to vaccinate more Orange County residents. As you can imagine, we are competing with multiple jurisdictions to do the same thing.”

Orange County’s new super POD is based at Aliso Viejo’s Soka University. Its attempt to vaccinate residents quickly and safely has been “the most aggressive campaign in our county’s history,” said Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

The new South County location will ensure the vaccine is more accessible to the area’s seniors, said Bartlett.

“I want to ensure all South County residents, particularly the most vulnerable, have another option to receive the vaccine closer to home,” she said during a press conference. “We are working as hard as we can, and utilizing all available resources to secure more vaccine from the state so that we can move this program forward as effectively and expeditiously as possible.”

Officials plan to erect five super PODs throughout the region; the first site was launched at Disneyland Jan. 13.

“Here we are only 10 days later,” said Supervisor Don Wagner, speaking at the Jan. 23 press conference. “Opening Soka University is another step toward accomplishing our very ambitious and realistic goal of protecting Orange County residents from the virus. We need more sites, we need more vaccines; we are actively working towards that.”

He called on the public to remain patient as the county continues moving through the queue.

“Please understand it takes time to get everyone a vaccine, as there are literally thousands of arms waiting for each particular shot,” Wagner said during the press conference. “Our county HCA is facing high demand for the vaccine and with the state’s rollout, we thank our residents for their patience as we try to get the shots to them.”

About 410,000 registered with Othena since Jan. 1.

Chau said that under the new platform, a person is being vaccinated in Orange County every five minutes.

Michelle Thompson is an editor and reporter based in Orange County, California. Her award-winning work has appeared in numerous major Canadian daily newspapers, as well as multiple U.S. publications.