Last week, the California Department of Public Health announced that seniors 65 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but Santa Barbara County still needs to catch up.
On Wednesday, the president and CEO of Cottage Health, Ron Werft, wrote a letter to the community on behalf of the local hospitals.
He wrote that with the surging hospitalizations and community spread of COVID, Cottage Health workers have to provide ongoing patient care while simultaneously working along with other providers to expand vaccinations.
“We are getting closer each day, but we are not done,” Mr. Werft wrote. “We must keep going to protect each other, our patients and our community.”
COVID hospitalizations surged over 100 at Cottage Hospital for the first time last week. This week, more than 200 COVID-positive patients are hospitalized throughout the county, with more than 2,500 active cases.
In addition, community transmission of COVID is at 15% for the seven-day testing positivity rate.
Mr. Werft wrote that approximately 10% of individuals diagnosed with COVID need to be admitted to the hospital for care, and those hospital stays are longer than average stays, which is putting a strain on hospital staff and capacity.
“Careful surge planning has worked to maintain bed capacity at Cottage so far, but the numbers are deeply concerning. COVID safety precautions have never been more important,” the president said. He added that it’s important for those who have been vaccinated recently to adhere to the safety precautions as well.
The Cottage Health Staff Vaccine Clinic has now vaccinated more than 70% of patient-facing staff and administered more than 5,800 total doses. Cottage Health also opened a drive-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic on the Goleta Valley campus, serving health care workers and individuals ages 75 and over.
Staff was only able to scratch the surface of vaccinating more than 30,000 individuals in that age group, only having 1,000 doses available.
“There is high demand but very little vaccine at this time,” Mr. Werft said. “It will take some time for the supply chain and resources to catch up.”
Those 75 or older can sign up at cottagehealth.org/covid19 for a future appointment opportunity. Community members looking for more information about vaccine eligibility can call 211 for assistance.
The 65-and-older age group, along with workers in childcare, grocery, agriculture and emergency services, are next up to receive the vaccine.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, and the California Department of Public Health, have yet to hear any updates on the lot of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses that were put on hold due to reports of six vaccine recipients who required medical treatment for what appeared to be severe allergic reactions, which happened during the standard observation period of 15 to 30 minutes.
However, Cottage Health spokesperson Maria Zate confirmed to the News-Press that Cottage Hospital did not have and does not have any doses from the Moderna lot that had issues.
The county received 3,900 doses of this particular Moderna lot, but all providers that received it reported to the county that none of the doses were administered.