If you are not thoroughly confused and confounded about the state and county’s vaccine distribution debacle, you must not be paying attention!
On Jan. 26, Santa Barbara County supervisors received an update on COVID-19, indicating that upwards of 44,000 people had received the vaccine. My question to the board was: Is there a plan and supply in hand to administer the mandatory second dose? They gave no answer and now I know why.
I asked the question because, due to limited supplies, some jurisdictions are only planning on administering the first dose to as many people as possible, instead of two doses as recommended. Why is this important? Vaccine manufacturers have strongly insisted that both doses be administered for the vaccine to have maximum effect. That is because the first dose, on its own, is estimated to be only 50% effective.
What is worse? Some scientists believe that if the coronavirus comes into contact with enough people who are not fully vaccinated, i.e., they have not received both doses, it could begin to mutate. If this happens enough times, current vaccines could become completely ineffective.
Two days after that hearing, on Jan. 28, local politicians and health officials hosted a town hall. The event included Assembly member Steve Bennett, D-Ventura; state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara; U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara; Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the Santa Barbara County public health director, and Barry Zimmerman, the Ventura County Health Care chief deputy director.
During this meeting, as reported in the News-Press, Mr. Zimmerman, speaking for both counties, said the following: “We did not receive a like-to-like allotment of first dose and second dose, nor do we have planning information to say the second doses are coming, so we’re doing our best to balance that out.”
He added that it was “impractical” to try to set up a system that allows individuals receiving their first dose of COVID vaccine to simultaneously schedule their second dose at that appointment, due to lack of supply and information about future supply.
The very next day, Jan. 29, the Santa Barbara County public health director stated it would halt administration of initial vaccine doses for the next four weeks due to low vaccine supplies from the state, while other providers will continue to offer both first and second doses. The Public Health Department would instead focus on completing second doses until the state’s new vaccine distribution system launches. Come again?
The federal, state and county’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, lockdown and vaccine distribution has been one Keystone Kop moment after another. If you recall, the Keystone Kops were famous for appearing extremely incompetent while exhibiting an uncommon amount of energy in the pursuit of failure. To wit, there has been no scientific data to support California’s on-and-off again lockdowns and constantly moving goal posts while other states opened up a long time ago without suffering harm.
The biggest problem the county has is that it is an extension of, and a partner with, the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is nearly last, if not dead last in the nation, with respect to an efficacious vaccine distribution plan. But don’t hold your breath for any of the aforementioned politicians and bureaucrats, including county supervisors, to place the blame where it belongs, because of their fealty to party politics, their fear of being cut off from state funds and the desire to protect their own reputations.
My advice? If you are interested in getting the vaccine, which is not so much a vaccine as it is experimental technology, head to Dignity Health in Santa Maria for your shots. They will take appointments from any and all county residents, and they are not daunted or hampered by the task of scheduling second appointments for second doses.
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of “The Andy Caldwell Radio Show,” weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290.