ALISO VIEJO, CA — Soka University will become the second Point of Dispensing vaccination site in Orange County starting Saturday at 8 a.m., officials say. The University staff has trained for this emergency response for 20 years, officials say, and ready and up for the task.
After two days of closure at the Disneyland Point of Dispensing location due to extreme Santa Ana winds, those with rescheduled appointments are returning for their shots. As more of the vaccinated plan for the second round of vaccination, county officials know that more distribution sites are essential in meeting the needs of Orange County’s 3.2 million residents.
To date, according to an Orange County Health Care Agency spokesperson, nearly 400,000 residents have registered through the www.Othena.com application. Of those, a mere 13 percent (52,090) have received their first vaccination. Another 57,000 await scheduled appointments for their vaccinations. All others, the remaining 283,976 people, as of this report, are in a virtual “waiting room.”
A fraction of those people meets the phase 1, over 65 categories, according to OCHA. Those who have registered will remain in that waiting room until called, via email, typically first thing in the morning. They told Patch.
Before the county opened the Othena system, many residents received their first vaccinations through the state’s partnership with large pharmacies and hospitals. Second doses will be handled through previously scheduled appointments, OCHA says.
Residents who reside in assisted care communities or nursing homes will be vaccinated through a partnership with Memorial Care, CVS, or Walgreens, as organized through the state, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. That program will visit the 72 skilled nursing facilities and 900 residential care facilities throughout Orange County, vaccinating those most at risk. On Thursday, Laguna Woods was accepting vaccination appointments.
“There will be precise rules on who can attend those appointments,” a spokesperson from MemorialCare said. All appointments will be handled in a reverse-notification method through the senior facilities.
Orange County Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do discussed the vaccination process, hopeful a second site will help the county reach real progress.
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“Orange County is working around the clock to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone who wants it,” Do say. “This second vaccination site at Soka University will allow us to vaccinate thousands of more residents every day.”
The county hopes to add three more Super Point Of Dispensing sites to the already up and running Disneyland and soon be open Soka University site as more vaccines are released.
It all depends on the receipt of more vaccine doses.
The Soka University site, located in Aliso Viejo, will be the second super POD in the 5th District, under Lisa Bartlett’s supervision.
“My district has a large number of seniors eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A,” Bartlett says, “and having a location in South County will prove extremely helpful in providing greater and more convenient access to the vaccine. I strongly encourage all residents to visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.com for the latest information on who is currently eligible to receive the vaccination, and learn the facts about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy.”
If you have an appointment at either Soka or Disneyland, you should arrive within a half-hour of your appointment time, according to Orange County Health Care.
“There is no need to arrive hours early,” Orange County Public Information Manager Molly Nichelson tells Patch. “Just come to a half-hour before your appointment.”
There is a growing concern for those who are waiting to schedule their appointments. However, all who wish to be vaccinated must sign up through the Othena.com website. That site will “hold their place in a virtual queue,” according to Nichelson.
New vaccination appointments are only made available as the vaccine doses are released.
If no vaccinations are available, residents find themselves lingering in the Othena “Waiting Room.”
As of this report, the waiting room offers no additional information. However, the Othena Website declares that soon a “timer” will be made available to give an estimate of how long the wait may take.
“Check your email first thing in the morning to see if you can set up your appointment,” Nichelson says. A four-hour window will allow you to register.
If you miss your chance, you go back into the queue.
The supervisors hope a second vaccine dispensing site will ease the burden for the elderly population who have difficulty reaching other distribution sites.
Nursing home and assisted care residents are receiving vaccinations through Walgreens pharmacists, Patch was told, a benefit to those who are the most at risk of catching the highly contagious disease.
Supervisor and Vice-Chairman Doug Chaffee discussed the vaccination plan dubbed “Operation Independence.”
“I am truly proud of all the work the Operation Independence Incident Management Team has done over the past two weeks to stand up the Super POD sites,” Chaffee says. “We understand that there are many residents who are anxious to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we encourage people to remain patient as we work to dispense our limited supply of vaccine to eligible individuals.”
Aliso Viejo Mayor Tiffany Ackley spoke on the partnership with the county.
“We are proud to partner with the County of Orange and Soka University to be a part of this important step towards ending this pandemic,” Ackley said. “The opening of a Super POD site in the City of Aliso Viejo expands access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all residents across the county.”
Soka University was tasked as a County Point of Distribution site since 2007, according to the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Archibald E. Asawa. “As we mark our 20th Anniversary in 2021, how appropriate that we can start this year in solidarity with the County to support our front line workers, first responders, and community members in this important endeavor.”
Are You Having Trouble with the Othena App?
Othena platform specialists respond to callers at the HCA Hotline to assist with questions related to the app and vaccine appointments. Call 714-834-2000, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or