Disneyland, OC's First Large-Scale Vaccination Center Opens To Lines

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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If you are trying to get a handle on how to get vaccinated in Orange County, you are not alone. On Jan. 13, Cars lined up on the streets near Disneyland Resort of hopefuls awaiting their dose of coronavirus vaccine. As of Jan. 13, only those who fall in Phase 1A of the vaccination plan, and those 65-years-old or older, can register. Still, the application designed to handle the registry was not working as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Orange County officials planned to open a guest parking area off Katella, transforming that into a coronavirus vaccination center—one of five planned for the county—to vaccinate up to 7,000 residents a day with the help of Othena, an application designed to manage the tiered vaccination process.

As of Wednesday, the county is vaccinating those who fall into the tier 1A category and those over 65 with pre-existing medical conditions. They did not anticipate the new system —designed to handle the flow of vaccination traffic— to buckle under the interest, fears, and hopes of 3.2 million Orange County residents.

After multiple reader's reports of a "confusing and difficult to navigate the system," Patch has learned that though the Othena App is not quite ready for business.

The website directs interested parties to fill out an informational form. According to the website, residents will be contacted at such a point as the app is available to them.

The app itself is not available for download on Apple or Google Play. The website says that "Othena is COMING SOON to the App Store and Google Play," and that "New users must register on the web portal links above."

Further investigation has shown that "due to high volumes of traffic," user registration has been blocked until after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

In a new system, one could see the amount of interest to be positive. Still, residents are frustrated, confused, and worried. Many south county residents, especially those over the age of 80, have expressed concerns with getting to the Disneyland site, driving so far for the chance to be free of coronavirus worries.

Disneyland Resort is just the first of at least 5 super vaccination sites to open to push toward herd immunity for Orange County residents.

"If you open up one more site, that's 14,000 a day," Supervisor and Chairman Andrew Do said. "A lot of it will depend on the number of vaccines that will be coming into Orange County. There's no point in setting up Super Point of Distribution Stations if we don't have vaccines to keep it running."

With 3.2 million residents in Orange County, officials are planning on vaccinating at least 2 million to achieve the 60 to 70 percent "herd immunity" that would halt the spread of the virus, according to Do. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a second dose three to four weeks from the initial first injection.

As coronavirus surges across the county, testing remains essential to residents who have been exposed to COVID-19. Meanwhile, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is working to transform testing sites into vaccination centers.

Over the past week, many residents have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Under the Orange County Health Care Agency's guidance, Orange County Fire Authority nurses and medics helped deliver first shots to those qualified for 1A level vaccinations. Patch has been told that those who received their shots at OCFA will now need to go to a large scale POD vaccination center, such as Disneyland, for their second dose in the allotted time frame.

Still, residents need to return in 21 days while getting additional residents their first dose of the vaccine becomes increasingly problematic.

"How do you vaccinate 2to million people twice? That's Four million doses," Do says.

Other sites have been discussed, such as Knotts Berry Farm, the Orange County Fairground in Costa Mesa, the UC Irvine campus, and Soka University in Aliso Viejo.

Disneyland Resort, Orange County's largest employer, has long suffered closure since the coronavirus pandemic reached Orange County in mid-March. Anaheim has suffered both health-wise and business-wise, according to officials. The city has seen some of the largest numbers of individuals infected with coronavirus in the county, and businesses that run on tourism have been brought to a standstill.

As county officials hinge their hopes on large scale vaccination of Orange County's residents, all hope this will be the solution to end the ongoing shutdown that has devastated Anaheim, Orange County, and much of Southern California.

Residents in the 1A category were told that they needed appointments to sign up through the Othena App, which has not worked for some and has been problematic for others.

Those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can view the phased tiers of eligibility and other important vaccination information at OC Health Care Agency's website, COVIDVaccineFacts.com.

According to the agency, the success of the vaccination distribution plan and the super point of distribution sites is dependent on everyone understanding where they fall in the phased, tiered plan.

According to OC Health Care, appointments are crucial so as not to overwhelm the distribution centers.

"We know the public is anxious to receive the vaccine, and we are working diligently to receive additional supplies," Moly Nicholson, spokesperson for the OC Health Care Agency, says. "Appointments will be available as soon as the vaccine supply exists to meet that demand."

All residents are encouraged to register to be notified when the County of Orange's vaccine and testing management app, Othena, has appointments available and is ready for their use by visiting othena.com/individuals.php and filling out the online form.

As of 10 a.m. on Jan. 13, the Othena website had been shut down due to "high volumes of traffic."

"I see this as our first significant step as a county to take back our county from COVID," Do said. "This is now us fighting the virus and defeating it by getting a lot of people vaccinated."

Category: COVID-19