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O.C. fairgrounds in Costa Mesa being eyed for next county vaccine super site, mayor says

Orange County opened a new COVID-19 vaccine distribution center at Disneyland in Anaheim.
Orange County opened a new COVID-19 vaccine distribution center at Disneyland in Anaheim that drew thousands of residents on its first day. The OC Fair & Event Center has also been listed as a potential future site.
(Photo by BBP West)

As Orange County residents 65 and older furiously book appointments to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at a new distribution center that opened Wednesday on the Disneyland lot in Anaheim, plans are already in the works to bring additional distribution centers online in coming weeks.

Officials have not yet declared where the additional super PODs (points of distribution) will be located, but Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley suggested in a virtual townhall forum on Facebook Thursday the Orange County fairgrounds could be among them.

“I know the cat’s already out of the bag that we’re going to eventually have a site at the fairgrounds,” Foley said in the forum, where she and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) provided an update on the county’s COVID-19 response.

“We’re really lucky to have that site here in Orange County, right here in Costa Mesa,” Foley continued. “It’s going to make it very accommodating for many, with easy access — so stay tuned.”

Health experts decry the chaotic rollout of the vaccine, but government says progress is on the way.

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Working in collaboration with the Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County Health Care Agency officials have established an incident management team to help oversee administration of COVID-19 vaccines and distribution points countywide.

A woman receives a first-round COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday on the Disneyland lot in Anaheim.
A woman receives a first-round COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday at a new Orange County distribution center on the Disneyland lot in Anaheim.
(Photo by BBP West)

Dubbed “Operation Independence,” the moniker refers to a goal set by health officials to see at least a bulk of Orange County residents vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4.

OCFA Division Chief Mike Pietro, who serves alongside OCHA Deputy Director Margaret Bredehoft as a unified commander for the operation, confirmed in a news conference Wednesday in addition to the Disneyland site, another four distribution centers were being planned throughout Orange County.

“As those site agreements are finalized, and as staffing is secured and we get more vaccine, those super POD sites will go online,” Pietro said, declining to state where the PODs would be located or when they might be operational.

The Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational, a destination track and field meet for distance runners, has been canceled due to uncertainty surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, meet director Steve Lalim confirmed Thursday.

Since August, the O.C. fairgrounds has hosted free drive-through COVID-19 testing, by appointment, to Orange County residents and first responders every Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Orange County Fair & Event Center spokeswoman Terry Moore could not confirm Thursday whether the fairgrounds might play a critical role in Operation Independence by distributing the vaccine, saying it would be up to the county to make any announcements.

“[But] we always stand ready to serve the community,” Moore added.

More information on COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Orange County can be found online at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources. Eligible residents can register to receive a free vaccination appointment at othena.com.

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