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New COVID-19 super vaccination site opens at O.C. fairgrounds in Costa Mesa as vaccines ramp up

A worker directs appointment holders into the new COVID-19 vaccination super POD site at the Orange County fairgrounds.
A worker directs appointment holders into the new COVID-19 vaccination super POD site at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

County residents have come to Costa Mesa’s O.C. fairgrounds for various purposes throughout the pandemic, from drive-through fair food and coronavirus testing to in-vehicle concerts and comedy shows, and now they’ll have one more reason to come — COVID-19 vaccines.

Elected officials on Wednesday joined with representatives from the Orange County Health Care Agency and the OC Fair & Event Center to mark the opening of the site as the county’s latest super vaccination POD (point of dispensing) site.

It joins others previously opened at Aliso Viejo’s Soka University, the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland, which has been converted to a drive-through format available for people with disabled placards or license plates.

“Being able to add the O.C. fairgrounds to this list is an honor for the county of Orange,” said County Supervisor Chair Andrew Do in a news conference Wednesday. “This site adds to the capacity and infrastructure to allow us to deliver doses as quickly as possible once we receive them.”

Orange County District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley, left, and Dr. Clayton Chau
Orange County 2nd District Supervisor Katrina Foley, left, and Dr. Clayton Chau, right, director of the O.C. Health Care Agency, answers questions during the opening of a new COVID-19 vaccination super POD site at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

County leaders have set a goal of vaccinating most residents and employees by a July 1 deadline. With a slate of inoculation destinations large and small, including mobile clinics, pharmacies and events designed to reach vulnerable populations, the pace is ramping up.

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the O.C. Health Care Agency and health officer for the county, estimated as of March 29, the county had distributed more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. So far, more than 1.1 million residents had received at least one shot, with half of those being fully vaccinated.

“And, today, we’re going to add 2,000 more vaccines in arms here,” Chau said.

Orange County District 2 Supervisor and former Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said the opening of the fairgrounds’ vaccination site coincides not only with the county’s transition earlier this week to a less restrictive “orange” reopening tier, but with the recent announcement an in-person O.C. fairgrounds is being tentatively planned for July 16 through Aug. 15.

“This vaccination site here at the O.C. [fairgrounds] is going to be critical to helping us reduce the number of hospitalizations, reduce the number of positive cases and get us all back to living our best lives,” Foley said. “Really, this is the beginning of what is to be the future for fun — fun at the fair this summer.”

Appointment holders line up at the new COVID-19 vaccination super POD site
Appointment holders line up at the new COVID-19 vaccination super POD site at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Foley said state representatives helped secure 114,000 vaccine doses for the Costa Mesa site’s first week of operation, with more coming in the weeks and months ahead.

OCHA reported Wednesday 146 more new infections and four deaths countywide. With more than 3.34 million COVID-19 tests having been administered so far, Orange County’s seven-day average testing positivity rate stands at 1.7%.

Chau urged the public to keep wearing masks, practicing social distancing and engaging in coronavirus protocol and to encourage friends and loved ones still reluctant to get the vaccine to do so.

“This is our one-way ticket to get out of this pandemic,” he said. “There is not any other solution whatsoever — we need to do this.”

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