Final drive-through clinic will take place next week
Cottage Health held its second-to-last, drive-through vaccine clinic Thursday, offering first and second doses to a few hundred local residents ahead of next week’s final clinic.
The Community Vaccine Clinic, which is located in a side lot of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, has operated as an accessible site for many county residents since January. On Thursday, the clinic reached a milestone of 99,000 doses allocated, revealing the impact the clinic has had on the community vaccination effort throughout its six months of operation.
Next Thursday, Cottage Health will host its final vaccination drive-through clinic on the site, giving residents one more chance to get their vaccine at the clinic. The clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and residents can receive their vaccine with or without an appointment.
With the Delta variant gaining a foothold in Santa Barbara County, Angeli Mancuso, the director of community vaccination clinics for Cottage Health, said now is the time for eligible community members to get their shot in the arm to avoid serious infection from the virus.
“I think that’s the huge message to make sure that people hear is that it is still important to get your vaccine,” Ms. Mancuso told the News-Press. “If you haven’t already gotten either of the vaccines, start now. Or if you got one, you know, three months ago, and you just didn’t get around to finishing the series, make sure you finish the series.”
She continued, “(Experts) are finding that fully vaccinated individuals, although you can still get COVID, you’re going to get a milder form of it and potentially avoid hospitalization.”
Next Thursday’s final drive-through clinic comes as local vaccine interest has waned in recent weeks. According to Ms. Mancuso, the number of patients served at the vaccine clinic has slowly decreased over the last three months.
At its peak in April, the clinic administered about 2,300 shots in a single day, but since that time, the number of doses allocated and the amount of appointments scheduled has decreased significantly.
Last month, that number dropped to under 1,000 patients in a day, Ms. Mancuso said.
It’s due to this drop in appointments that the clinic will end its drive-through service next week.
During the second to last drive-through clinic on Thursday, Cottage Health staff vaccinated about 350 patients.
Among them was 12-year-old Abigail Gonzalez who received her second shot at the clinic on Thursday. After receiving her shot in the arm, Abigail told the News-Press that she feels better protected from the impacts of the virus.
“It makes me feel good to know that I’m safe because I feel like I’m a bit germaphobic, and when I see kids coughing, I get a little nervous,” Abigail said. “And now I know when I see kids coughing, I have a little bit of protection.”
Santa Barbara resident Nick Hart was also among the patients who received a vaccine at Thursday’s clinic, receiving his first dose of the vaccine in the afternoon.
Mr. Hart told the News-Press that as an essential worker, he had the opportunity to get the vaccine early on, but because of his busy work schedule, he decided to push off getting his shot.
“I had, as an essential worker, the opportunity right out the gate (to get vaccinated). But being a young, healthy, strong adult, I didn’t feel like I deserved the priority in some ways,” Mr. Hart said. “So, you know, I just made sure not to jump out at the first opportunity when there (was) a much higher risk of people that needed those limited vaccines in the beginning. So I just felt like waiting, and it turned into more excuses and to kicking the can down the road. But I’m here now.”
With the drive-through clinic at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital hosting its final day next week, Ms. Mancuso said physicians at Cottage Health will be encouraging unvaccinated community members to get their shots at local pharmacies instead.
As of Thursday, 60.9% of eligible county residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated, and 69% of those eligible had received at least one shot. With a portion of the eligible population still unvaccinated, Ms. Mancuso said she recommends that unvaccinated folks who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine talk to vaccinated friends and doctors about the safety and benefits of the shot.
“With millions of people having received this vaccine, we’re seeing that it’s safe,” Ms. Mancuso said. “A lot of the messages I heard at the beginning were (people saying) ‘I’m just going to wait to see how it works with other people.’ We’ve seen how it works with other people, so we know that it’s a safe and importantly effective way to prevent hospitalization and death if you do catch COVID.”
On Thursday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The individual who died was over the age of 70, resided in Santa Barbara and had underlying health conditions.
The Public Health Department reported 14 new cases in Santa Maria and in Santa Barbara and the unincorporated Mission Canyon on Thursday, 12 new cases in Lompoc and the communities of Mission Hills and Vandenberg Village and 11 new cases in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Six new cases were reported in the South Coast’s unincorporated areas of Montecito and Summerland and in Carpinteria, four new cases were reported in Goleta, and two new cases were reported in both Isla Vista and the unincorporated areas of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota. Six cases were pending on Thursday.
As of Thursday, the county’s active case rate stood at 271 infections.