Disneyland Resort will serve as Orange County's first COVID-19 vaccine dispensing super site, enabli...
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Disneyland Will Soon Serve As COVID Vaccine Dispensing "Super" Site

The theme park's large size means thousands of people can be vaccinated each day.

by Morgan Brinlee

Disneyland's gates are finally reopening, but visitors won't find rides or character attractions in operation. Instead, Disneyland will be a COVID-19 vaccine dispensing "super" site, effectively enabling Orange County to vaccinate thousands of residents per day. The theme park, which has been closed since March, will remain shuttered to traditional guests while it serves as one of five regional "Super Point-of-Dispensing (POD)" vaccine sites.

"The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county’s first Super POD site – undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process,” Andrew Do, acting chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement released Monday. "We truly appreciate the support of the Orange County Fire Authority, our cities, and our residents as we continue to rollout COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the county."

The Disneyland-based Super POD site is expected to be operational later this week, according to a press release put out by Orange County. Currently distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is being done via a phased and tiered strategy established by the state of California's Department of Public Health. For now, only individuals older than 75 or deemed eligible under the state's Phase 1A guidelines can receive a vaccine. These include individuals working in acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals, those who provide emergency medical services such as paramedics and EMTs, community health workers, those working in primary care clinics, specialty clinics, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, dialysis centers, dental offices, and pharmacies.

In February, Orange County expects to expand its vaccination outreach to include food and agriculture workers, education and childcare employees, and other emergency services personnel. Those eligible to receive a vaccine will be contacted by their employer via a third-party app the county has developed to assist with vaccine distribution.

“It's important to vaccinate as many willing people as possible for COVID-19, and we need the space to do it,” Orange County Supervisor Donald P. Wagner said in a statement released Monday.

While Disneyland has previously criticized California officials for their strict reopening guidelines, the park has said it's happy to assist the county with its vaccine rollout. “Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our property, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19,” Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer of Disney Parks, told Reuters.

In October, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock slammed California's reopening guidelines as being “unworkable,” arguing they would ultimately be "irreparably devastating" to the Southern California businesses forced to remain closed. "We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world," Entertainment Weekly reported Potrock said. "Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities."

California has, unfortunately, continued to see a surge of coronavirus cases and deaths with the Associated Press recently reporting that new infections are rising at a rate of more than a quarter-million a week. County and state officials hope Super POD sites like Disneyland will increase both the efficiency of and access to the state's vaccine rollout efforts.

"Coronavirus has brought both a public health crisis and economic devastation," Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement released Monday. “With this super site, we will begin to overcome both. Every vaccination done in Anaheim will help to save lives and speed the reopening and recovery of our city."