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Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021

I got my shot yesterday! I’m happy to report that the Soka University site, which opened on Saturday, January 23, is running smoothly. Soka is Orange County’s second Super Point-of Dispensing, or POD, vaccination site. The first one was Disneyland, which opened on Jan. 13. The county plans to open up three more super POD sites as vaccines become available. These sites will inoculate seniors and the general population seven days a week, under the county’s “Operation Independence,” the plan to enable everyone in Orange County to be immunized against COVID-19 by July 4, 2021. That’s an ambitious plan for a county of 3.2 million people. The bottleneck appears to be supply.

The goal is to vaccinate 40,000 people a day at five super POD sites, but before you do the math, keep in mind that these sites are not the only sources of vaccination in our area. The supply of vaccines comes to Orange County via the federal government and the state of California and right now most of them go to hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical providers. Here is a distribution chart to clarify the supply chains on a broad level:

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Channels, Orange County Health Agency (link below)

See the little tents with all the people crowded in front of them? That’s where Soka and Disneyland fit into the picture. Actually, you’re not supposed to bunch together like that. Here’s how it worked for me:

  • Appointments: You have to register on othena.com to be in the queue for a County POD. I registered in mid January and immediately received an email saying I was eligible. I did not hear from them again until Monday, Feb. 8, when they sent a second email saying I could log in and make an appointment. When I logged in on my pc I was given a choice of site (Disneyland or Soka University), then a choice of day and choice of time. I printed out the confirmation information and put it in my purse. (Note: Othena plans to notify you of your appointment waiting time when you register, but this is not in place yet.)
  • Arrival: Plan to arrive 30 minutes early. As I turned on to the street where Soka is located, I joined a line of cars slowly approaching the entrance. The traffic was guided by masked traffic controllers. The first one asked what time my appointment was. “10:30,” I said. “Perfect,” he replied. It was 10:08. He wanted to see my confirmation and then told me to keep it out because everyone else would ask for it too. Having it on the app on your phone is an option. Just keep it on the display. They do not take walk-ins.
  • The parking garage: The signage is clear and you just follow the car ahead of you. We drove under a canopy where they checked the confirmation again and our temperature as well. Then up a slope into the parking garage where they show you where to park. Then to the second floor where there are four lines marked 00, 15, 30, and 45. Orange circles on the floor show you where to stand. After the 15’s had gone in, the 30’s line began to move. We steadily advanced from one circle to the next, like a slow-motion game of musical chairs.
  • Three-step process: (1) Still in the parking garage, we were each shown to a table where we sat down and answered about ten questions about our allergy history. (2) We walked into the gymnasium and were directed to a numbered table. A little chit-chat for distraction (“Are you nervous?” “Do you have any exciting plans for this afternoon?”) and, smooth as silk, an injection, a bandaid, a vaccination card, and advance to (3) a spaced array of folding chairs where you wait 15 minutes before leaving.
Soka has been set up to be a POD since 2007.

There is a reason why everything is so organized. POD sites didn’t spring up yesterday to help with the COVID crisis. They are part of a federally-instituted system to administer medical aid such as to communities throughout the United States. According to the CDC, “Points of dispensing (POD) are community locations at which state and local agencies dispense and administer medical countermeasures (MCMs) to the public.”  The Soka site is organized by the Orange County Department of Public Health using federal guidelines. If you watch the video “Point of Dispensing (POD) Introduction and Overview,” made in 2012, the organization will look very familiar (link below). Soka university has been a public health distribution site since 2007.

The measures we are using now have a history of course. Changes to our current system of public response under FEMA and the CDC goes back to the 2001 crisis of 9/11 and the anthrax threats. But for now we’ll take a break and save the history for another day.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“UH president provides update on COVID-19 vaccinations,” University of Hawaii News, Feb. 9, 2021. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/09/february-9-update-covid-19-vaccinations/

“Fully vaccinated people can skip Covid quarantines, CDC says,” CNN, Wed. Feb. 10, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/10/health/covid-vaccinated-quarantine-cdc-guidance/index.html

“What to know about vaccinations at LA County-run sites this week as supply runs low,” ABC 7, Feb. 8, 2021. https://abc7.com/la-county-covid-vaccine-covid19-coronavirus-sites/10321648/

Sources:

“First doses of COVID vaccine given at Soka University, OC’s second mass vaccination site,” Orange County Register, Jan. 23, 2021. https://www.ocregister.com/2021/01/23/first-doses-of-covid-vaccine-given-at-soka-university-ocs-second-mass-vaccination-site/

“COVID-19 Vaccine Public Distribution Channels,” OC Health Care Agency, https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels

“Orange County launches ‘Operation Independence’ to distribute COVID-19 vaccines countywide,” Los Angeles Times, Daily Pilot, Jan. 8, 2021. https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/story/2021-01-08/orange-county-launches-operation-independence-to-distribute-covid-19-vaccines-countywide

“Point of Dispensing (POD) Introduction and Overview,” Orange County Health Care Agency, 2012 training video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25BI2Ld7u8o&feature=youtu.be+

“Health Care Closed Points of Dispensing,” CDC, State and Local Readiness. https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/readiness/healthcare/closedPODtoolkit.htm

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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