As Santa Barbara County prepares to expand its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, a new vaccine could soon be on the way.
On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age or older, according to the FDA.
“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement. “The FDA, through our open and transparent scientific review process, has now authorized three COVID-19 vaccines with the urgency called for during this pandemic, using the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”
In announcing the new vaccine, Johnson & Johnson said that its vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease.
The preliminary statement says the vaccine was 72% efficacious in preventing COVID-19 in the U.S. population, but only 57% efficacious in preventing COVID-19 in South Africa, where a new mutation, B.1.351, is now the dominant virus strain.
The vaccine requires only one shot, and can be stored in a refrigerator for three months and stay viable under those conditions.
Johnson & Johnson has produced 7 million doses as of Friday, and is slated to have 30 million by the end of April.
“Providing the FDA EUA is granted in mid-February, I am excited to see another vaccine to become available in the near future,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County’s public health officer, told the News-Press last month. “The simplicity of the one shot regimen and the less complicated storage requirements will make it a preferred vaccine option for certain situations (smaller practices, use in mobile units to reach out to homeless or other vulnerable populations where a follow up for the second dose can be difficult to guarantee).”
As discussed by local health officials on Friday, the state anticipates getting 380,000 initial doses of the J&J vaccine, which would then be distributed to the county. It was unclear approximately how many vaccines the county would be allotted.
The newly approved vaccine comes just one day after the county announced expanding its vaccination efforts for residents in the county’s Phase 1B.
Starting Monday, appointments will be available to Santa Barbara County residents that are emergency services workers, grocery workers, and Phase 1A health care workers. Additional outreach for separate clinics for educators and childcare, and the agricultural and food industry are also taking place at clinics next week.
According to health officials, approximately 2,800 total first-dose appointments will be available at vaccination sites in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.
Starting Monday morning, eligible residents that are in emergency services, grocery and Phase 1A health care workers can schedule an appointment at https://publichealthsbc.org/covid-19-vaccine-appointment-registration/.
Appointments will only be available beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, officials said.
Those who are eligible and need assistance with appointment registration can call 211 and select option 4. The call center is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
The county will also be holding vaccination clinics on Tuesday and Wednesday for food bank and grocery workers and emergency services employees.
On Thursday, priority groups in TK through 12 will be vaccinated by Lompoc Valley Medical Center. Additional clinics are being planned for the other sectors and additional details are expected to be released next week.
At least 1,000 vaccines have been dedicated to childcare and education workers, said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the county Public Health Department.
Also on Monday, the county’s mobile COVID-19 testing unit will be moving Carpinteria, specifically at Procore, 6267 Carpinteria Ave. The test site will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday for at least two weeks. It will then move to a new location, which will be announced in the near future.
To request an appointment, visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting.
On Saturday, the county Public Health Department announced two additional COVID-19 related deaths, along with 84 new cases. The county has now recorded 31,951 total cases, including 386 that remain active. A total of 411 deaths have been recorded.
One of the deaths announced Saturday was an individual between 30 and 49 and the other was over 70. Both had underlying health conditions and neither was associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility. One was from Santa Barbara and the other was from Santa Maria, officials said.
Santa Maria reported 24 new cases and now has 104 active cases.
A total of 21 new cases were reported in the city Santa Barbara, and 15 new cases were reported in Lompoc. Santa Barbara has 89 active cases, and Lompoc has 51.
A total of 12 new cases were reported in Orcutt.
A total of 74 people are receiving treatment at local hospitals, including 18 in the Intensive Care Unit. The county’s ICU availability was 26.3% as of Saturday.