Wait Continues for COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment in Orange County, Prompting Closures

February 22, 2021 Updated: February 22, 2021

Orange County was still waiting to receive a delayed shipment of COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 22, forcing some inoculation hubs to remain closed for at least another day.

“We did not get a shipment in over the weekend or today,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee told The Epoch Times on Feb. 22. “We don’t know when [it will arrive]; we’re hoping any minute but probably not until tomorrow or the next day.”

A winter storm delayed the state’s shipment of the Moderna vaccine last week, pushing back its distribution to some regions and prompting the closure of the county’s Disneyland super point of distribution (POD) site.

“Disney is not able to do anything right now without the vaccine,” Chaffee said. “We can’t really take a chance on scheduling people and then having to reschedule or disappoint them and all that” if the vaccine doesn’t arrive soon.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett told The Epoch Times that the shipment appears poised to arrive around 11 a.m. Feb. 23. She confirmed the Disneyland site would remain closed until at least Feb. 24.

The county’s other super POD site at Soka University will remain open for a day or two longer, due to it dispensing the slightly more plentiful Pfizer vaccine.

“We have enough Pfizer [doses] to operate Soka for two days,” Bartlett said Feb. 22 via text message. “We are expecting another Pfizer shipment within the next two days.”

The county is hoping to get a double supply this week to compensate for the delayed shipments, which would allow it to reopen all sites.

The vaccine shortage comes as the state begins vaccinating those in the “Phase 1B Tier 1” of the vaccine rollout, which includes educators, grocery store employees, child care providers, and emergency service workers.

Educators Become Eligible

Ian Hanigan, a spokesperson for the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), told The Epoch Times that the county will be opening specific vaccination sites for those in the education field.

“OCDE collaborated with the OC Health Care Agency to open the county’s first education-specific POD … in Garden Grove on Feb. 18,” Hanigan told The Epoch Times via email. “Assuming supplies are sufficient, that POD will continue to focus this week on vaccinating the remaining 1,100 or so school employees who are at least 65 years old and still in need of one or both doses.

“Plans are underway to vaccinate educators in other age groups.”

An additional six education-specific PODs are expected to open in the coming weeks, and OCDE officials hope to place them in the Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Saddleback, and Capistrano school districts.

“Keep in mind this will be a massive undertaking to support staging, staffing, logistics, and supplies,” Hanigan said. “But if all goes as planned, OCDE expects to have seven school-based PODs up and running across the county by mid-April. Each site will be staffed with school nurses and support personnel to provide about 500 vaccines per day, assuming supplies are sufficient.”

Hope for Reopening Schools

Supervisor Chaffee said he hopes educators getting vaccinated will allow Orange County schools to reopen before next fall.

“Orange County has 28 different school districts, each with a separately elected school board,” Chaffee said. “So you’re going to get a bunch of different plans, but we all want to get schools open so our kids can get the education they need and the social experience.

“At the same time, you got to balance that with keeping everybody safe. So I don’t know where you reach that point where everybody’s safe enough or not. There is also testing; by my understanding, the schools that reopen must have a plan approved by the state, and that includes testing. So it’s kind of an ongoing thing, but to get it open initially, you’ve got to have enough people vaccinated that you feel it can be done safely.”

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis