County begins vaccinating select essential workers
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine hit the road Sunday night after getting FDA and CDC approval earlier in the weekend.
“Within the next 24 to 48 hours, Americans should start receiving shots in arms,” Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson CEO and chairman of the board, told NBC’s “Today” Monday.
The company plans to deliver 100 million doses by June.
“We do not yet know how many doses will be allotted to our facilities. We are closely monitoring the progress of the vaccine and will distribute it accordingly, once received,” a spokesperson for Dignity Health, which operates Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, said in an email Monday to the News-Press.
Johnson & Johnson reported the vaccine as 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19 in a global Phase 3 trial and 85% effective against severe cases.
“As with any vaccine, Dignity Health will not administer unless the FDA has determined it is safe and effective. Our clinical leaders have reviewed clinical trial data and evidence for the vaccines and concur with the FDA authorization,” the spokesperson said.
The county’s distribution of vaccines expanded Monday to include essential workers in the following industries: food and agriculture, emergency services, and education and childcare.
“The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is working with the Santa Barbara County Education Office and private schools to prioritize educators and staff. This week we are partnering with Lompoc Valley Medical Center to vaccinate educators working with medically fragile students,” a spokesperson with Public Health said in an email to the News-Press.
A total of 1,100 appointments will be offered to TK-12 educators this week.
School districts will contact employees with information to register to receive the vaccine. Priority starts with educators serving students who require support that does not allow physical distancing, may not be able to wear a mask and are medically fragile.
Then schools and districts will offer appointments to those with significant contact to others and those who mix across groups or locations.
Public Health is working with the Santa Barbara County agricultural commissioner, community organizers and growers to target the agriculture industry and offer appointments in coming weeks.
Although vaccine eligibility is expanding, providers continue to have waitlists for the vaccine.
At 11 a.m. Monday, the News-Press did not find appointment slots available at Santa Barbara County pharmacies.
Those unable to secure an appointment should frequently check online for openings or call the Santa Barbara County helpline at 211.