Community members receive first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine
The Santa Barbara Health Care Center expanded its vaccine efforts on Friday, offering shots to members of the public in addition to health center patients.
Since the end of January, the Santa Barbara Health Care Center has doled out shots exclusively to its patients and a few members of the public through weekly vaccination clinics. During the peak of the vaccine effort, 100 to 120 patients received the vaccine at each event, but that has since tapered to about 16 to 20 per event, Paola Hurtado, the health care center administrator, told the News-Press.
Friday’s event was the first time the staff widely advertised the clinic to members of the public in advance, offering walk-in appointments for all community members. The clinic was meant to break down barriers for vaccine access as well as celebrate National Health Care Centers Week, which was recognized nationally from last Sunday through today.
The vaccine effort saw great success on Friday, with about 90 shots distributed in total, Ms. Hurtado said. Community members who attended the clinic had the option to choose which shot they’d like to receive — the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The clinic offered both first and second doses, though most of those attending Friday’s event received their first shot.
Given the success of Friday’s event, Ms. Hurtado said the clinic is considering another vaccination event for September.
“Our goal is to ensure that communities are aware that we have this available,” Ms. Hurtado said.
“We are here to serve the underserved, we have English, Spanish educators on site, and we do have a good amount of Spanish speaking patients,” she later added.
In addition to the vaccine clinic, Friday’s event also featured free nutritional counseling on site for any patients interested in a consultation. Megan Vercelli, a dietician at the Health Care Center, told the News-Press that just as vaccines prevent severe illness from COVID-19, a healthy diet can act as a preventative measure for illnesses associated with diabetes and high cholesterol.
“It’s always better to prevent problems from happening as opposed to trying to deal with them once they’ve already happened,” Ms. Vercelli said. “And that kind of applies to both the vaccine and nutrition, you know, it’s better to vaccinate yourself and not have hospitalization rather than try to deal with the hospitalization because you got infected.”
“Same thing with nutrition, you know, trying to target behaviors that aren’t so healthy earlier on leads to a better result than waiting until you have diabetes or you have really high cholesterol and all these other things, it’s a little harder to kind of make changes at that point.”
During the event, local Santa Barbara resident Kyle Brace joined 90 patients who got vaccinated Friday after receiving her single dose shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
After falling ill with COVID-19, Ms. Brace told the News-Press that she had been waiting for a period of time before getting her shot. She said what drew her to the Health Care Center’s clinic was the ability to choose any of the three shots, and she had a hard time finding clinics doling out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine elsewhere.
With her shot in the arm, Ms. Brace said she’s looking forward to a trip she planned to Paris next month and feels good that she did her part to help slow the spread of the virus.
“I’ve always believed that we have to step up together as a community, both locally and worldwide, in the face of this pandemic,” Ms. Brace said. “And so, it’s for philosophical reasons and of course, health reasons (that I chose to get the vaccine). I consider myself strong, and in good health, and yet, I would not want to ever unwittingly expose or infect somebody else because I wasn’t vaccinated.”