But officials say there aren’t enough doses to administer
The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that residents who are 65 and older are now eligible to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
That being the case, there will likely be a wait in the coming weeks for those individuals to schedule an appointment and actually receive the first dose.
Santa Barbara County is currently vaccinating frontline health care workers and those 75 and older, and there is a limited supply of vaccine from the state.
Therefore, Public Health vaccine sites such as Cottage Health and Sansum Clinic do not have first dose appointments available yet for those between ages 65 and 74.
On Saturday, Sansum Clinic CEO and Chief Medical Officer Kurt Ransohoff sent a letter to Sansum patients, telling them “just because the county announced that people ages 65 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination does not mean that we have received more vaccines to give out.”
“This decision makes more than 40,000 residents age 65 and over eligible, yet the county is only receiving a small fraction of that amount, much of which is needed for second doses, to vaccinate people from Carpinteria to Santa Maria,” Dr. Ransohoff wrote. “Despite the fact that we have built a strong infrastructure for vaccine scheduling and distribution, appointment slots for the COVID-19 vaccine continue to be very limited due to a low and variable supply. We know this is incredibly frustrating for many of you, and we hope you understand this is also incredibly frustrating for us.”
He added that Sansum created a waitlist registration process for individuals 65 and older that went live Tuesday.
“We cannot stress enough that your patience is appreciated, and that we will do our best to communicate with you as quickly as possible,” Dr. Ransohoff continued. “It will help all of us tremendously if you can please refrain from calling us in order to be added to the waitlist; we will contact you. Once on the waitlist, you will receive a notification when there is an available appointment, with instructions for how to schedule it.”
Jackeline Ruiz, County Public Health’s public information officer, confirmed that the county is focusing on providing more than 11,000 second doses in the next two weeks. She said the county hopes to receive larger allocations in the coming weeks.
Ms. Ruiz added that the county will offer more first doses as soon as it receives a larger allocation.
Just under 6,000 doses of vaccine are expected to arrive in the county next week, the Public Health Department reported in a news release Monday. Officials said appointments for residents between ages 65 and 74 will likely become available through health care providers and pharmacies before they become available at Public Health sites.
Maria Zate, Cottage Health spokesperson, also confirmed that Cottage Health is not administering vaccines to individuals ages 65 and older yet.
According to Cottage’s website, 750 first dose and 2,000 second dose appointments will be administered at the next vaccine clinic, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
As of Feb. 12, 16,859 doses were administered by Cottage Health.
More than 40,000 residents of Santa Barbara fit into this 65-74 age bracket, so appointments will be very limited.
The county is also waiting on further clarification from the state about moving to the third-party administrator, Blue Shield California, which will change the way the vaccine is administered locally.
In addition, the COVID-19 Response press conference scheduled for Tuesday was canceled, so further updates will be provided on Friday’s news conference.
There are a variety of ways for health care workers and those ages 65 and older to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine. However, if residents are not eligible yet, Public Health officials encourage them to hold off on signing up and to monitor updates. Officials said registering while still ineligible could slow down the process.
Clinics will contact their patients who are eligible when appointments become available.
If you’re not a patient of a healthcare provider or are looking for other resources, register for a vaccine appointment through the County Public Health Department. Visit publichealthsbc.org/covid-19-vaccine appointment registration, where local pharmacy vaccine signup forms are also available.
Residents can also call 2-1-1 and select option 4 for more information on vaccinations, or visit publichealthsbc.org/covid-19-vaccine-information-2.
To sign up through Cottage Health, visit cottagehealth.org/coronavirus-covid-19/vaccine-information-signup.
To register for the waitlist at Sansum Clinic and be automatically contacted when an appointment becomes available, visit covid19.sansumclinic.org/waitlist.
Marian Regional Medical Center has information on vaccines available at dignityhealth.org/central-coast/locations/marianregional/coronavirus.
Residents can also register for notifications when they are eligible for the vaccine at myturn.ca.gov.