Disneyland has remained closed since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March, and the company has furloughed tens of thousands of employees. Now, the theme park is set to become the first mass-vaccination site in Orange County, California, as the state faces record COVID-19 deaths.
Government officials announced late Monday that Disneyland will be the first “Super Point-of-Dispensing” (POD) site in the county when it begins operations later this week.
“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,” acting chairman Andrew Do, Orange County Supervisor, representing the First District, said in a statement.
The county plans to open more Super POD sites soon, with five regional sites having the capacity to vaccinate thousands of people daily — making the vaccination process much more efficient.
“Coronavirus has brought both a public health crisis and economic devastation,” said Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. “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.”
Echoing the process across much of the U.S., vaccines in Orange County are distributed through a phased, tiered approach, with law enforcement and first responders among the first to be vaccinated. Now, residents over the age of 75 are also eligible to receive the vaccine.
Those who meet the criteria must schedule an appointment at a Super POD site to be vaccinated, officials said.
Orange County has a population of about 3.1 million people. According to county data, more than 190,000 residents have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began.
“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,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told CBS News. “After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state would be stepping up its coronavirus vaccination efforts this week, also opening mass vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Petco Park in San Diego and Cal Expo in Sacramento. The state reported a record number of deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.
Newsom said the state’s goal was to vaccinate 1 million more people by the weekend.
Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, told WESH that Disney World has the technology to store the vaccine, and operating at a reduced capacity, they also have space.
Disney said they have been in talks with the state but did not confirm any plans or whether it will become a vaccination site.