COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- A new Super POD vaccination site is now open at the Orange County fairgrounds as county leaders hope to increase vaccine appointment availability across the region.
The new site opened on Wednesday, which was the day Orange County moved into the orange tier. Officials said they expected 2,000 people to get the vaccine at the Super POD (point of dispensing) site on that day alone.
Local business owner Rob Arellano was excited to hear about the opening of the OC Fair and Event Center vaccination site, which is less than two miles from his restaurant.
Arellano grew up near the U.S.- Mexico border. His father used to take him to family-owned taco shops. Arellano opened Descanso Mexican Restaurant in the fall of 2018 -- then COVID-19 hit.
"Especially in the infancy of a restaurant, it's even more difficult, but it's been quite the learning experience to say the least from an operation standpoint," Arellano said.
Arellano's staff members were having trouble finding vaccination appointments.
"As I was trying to sort of push my staff and to, encouraging them I should say, into getting vaccinated, it was really hard to find appointments. So, I was kind of, falling on deaf ears, and now that more locations are opening and more availability, it's been easier," Arellano said.
County leaders hoped to see that trend continue, announcing Wednesday that O.C.'s vaccine allotment reached 114,000 doses for the week. Still, authorities warn that we all have to do our part to prevent a surge.
The county's Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau reminded residents during Wednesday's press conference at the fairgrounds that masks are still required in the county and California.
"So for those of you who have businesses, who have family, who are coming into Orange County from other counties, from other states, please ensure that they follow our mandate," Dr. Chau said.
Also under Dr. Chau's jurisdiction is oversight of public and private vaccine providers in the county. No one is to be turned away from getting a COVID-19 shot because of immigration status.
"We have made it very clear that people can get the vaccine and there is no requirement for residency status," Dr. Chau said.
Arellano said he'll continue following guidelines to keep moving forward and was grateful for the 50% indoor dining capacity that comes with the orange tier.
"Like a lot of restaurants, just going to patio and takeout is not the heart and soul of our business. We have open cooktops where people interact with the chefs and cook in front of you and without that it's just not the same," Arellano said.
Dr. Chau said a big part of preventing a spike in O.C. is vaccinating communities most impacted by this virus. In Orange County, that's four zip codes: 92701, 92703, 92844 and 92805. Dr. Chau announced publicly Wednesday that as of last Friday, teens over the age of 16 who live in these zip codes are eligible to get their vaccinations with parent consent at county PODs.
See the map below to find out where your county stands.
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