Hundreds line up for COVID-19 vaccine in O.C. after state allows expanding access to more people

After California state officials expanded COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, hundreds lined up to get their doses in Anaheim Friday.

Aiming to speed up the slower-than-expected vaccine rollout, the California Department of Public Health on Thursday told local public health departments and providers to vaccinate lower priority groups when demand subsides or when doses are about to expire.

That meant that in addition to frontline health care workers, people working in primary care clinics, specialty clinics, laboratories, dental clinics and pharmacies can get the vaccine.

And if more doses remain, local health officials can move on to vaccinating groups in the next tier, while still continuing to offer vaccines to those in higher priority groups, CDPH officials said.

“Local health departments and providers may allocate doses on the assumption that immunization will be accepted by some but not all who are offered the vaccine,” CDPH said in a news release.

The expansion comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, adding that the pace of immunization is “not good enough.”

At the North Net Training Center in Anaheim, a long line wrapped around the building as people waited to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday morning.

It’s one of three mass vaccination sites Orange County set up. The other two are in Irvine and Huntington Beach.

On Thursday, nearly 1,000 people received their first dose at the Anaheim site. Another 1,300 people are expected to get the vaccine by the end of Friday, city of Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster told KTLA.

People who work at the high-risk settings listed under Phase 1A of the state’s distribution plan were told to make an appointment online, through a link they get through their employer.

Those hoping to get the vaccine were told to bring a photo ID and documentation proving they work at the settings included in Phase 1A. That could be a pay stub or employee badge.

“I’m a pharmacy tech so I have to deal with a lot of patients, so it’s good to get the vaccine,” said Monique Vo, who was waiting for her inoculation.

Also waiting for a dose was Dr. Summar Amin, who is a dentist.

“I feel like we’re kind of forgotten about,” Amin said. “But definitely, we have aerosols in the air every day working on procedures, so I think it’s important that we all get vaccinated.”

As part of a plan dubbed ‘Operation Independence,’ Orange County is standing up large “Super Point-of-Dispensing sites” that will eventually be able to vaccinate thousands of residents each day, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Andrew Do said in a news release.

The county anticipates needing at least five super sites, officials said.

“This is the critical first phase of vaccinations here in California,” Lyster said. “We need to make sure that health care professionals are vaccinated, so they can continue to treat those in need.”

Law enforcement in Orange County areas with high coronavirus infection rates, like Anaheim and Santa Ana, can also get vaccinated at this stage, officials said.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, more than 32,200 people had been vaccinated in the county, according to the Orange County Health Care Authority.


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