As the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department gets set to expand its vaccine distribution this week, health officials are continuing to urge the public to remain patient as supply remains limited.
The county receives a weekly allocation of roughly 6,000 vaccines from the federal government, and has thus far administered 61,000 doses — which includes more than 45,500 first doses and 14,000 second doses to residents over the age of 75 and frontline health care workers.
While it has taken the county just shy of two months to transition from Phase 1A to Phase 1B of its vaccination rollout, starting Tuesday the county will begin scheduling vaccine appointments for those over 65. Within the next two weeks, the county hopes to begin vaccination efforts for other job sectors within Phase 1B, including childcare and education, food and agriculture and emergency services.
For perspective, there are some 26,000 health care workers and more than 32,000 residents over the age of 75 in Santa Barbara County. Health officials estimate nearly 41,000 residents between 65 and 74, as well as more than 22,500 educators and childcare workers, more than 33,000 food and agriculture workers and more than 5,700 emergency services workers.
The county had originally planned to vaccinate all those eligible in Phase 1B, though Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said Friday that opening up vaccines to up to more than 80,000 people could cause the rollout system to crash.
“If you look at the big picture, age 65 and older is basically the greatest risk factor regardless of underlying health conditions or chronic health problems to have a poor outcome,” he said. “And that’s why with this incredibly stretched, short supply of vaccine product, we decided that we are going to wait a couple of weeks later for those folks who are in these industries. We’re really talking a couple of weeks.”
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, public health director, said that it would be an “impossibility” to vaccine all those in Phase 1B simultaneously due to the lack of supply. She stressed that planning efforts are continuing in the meantime, and that the county is poised to roll out more vaccine doses once the supply allows.
By mid-March, Blue Shield California will become the third-party administrator for the statewide vaccination rollout and will manage the allocation and determine priorities.
For more information on the county’s vaccination efforts, visit https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/.
The county Public Health Department reported five additional COVID-related deaths on Saturday, as well as 154 new cases. The county has now reported 372 total deaths and 30,728 total cases.
Four of the decedents were over 70 and one was between 50 and 69 years old. All five had underlying medical conditions and all were associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility.
Four resided in Santa Barbara and the other in Santa Maria, officials said.
The city of Santa Maria reported 45 new cases on Saturday, and has now reported 10,419 total cases. Of those, 165 remain active.
A total of 31 new cases were reported in the city of Santa Barbara, which has now reported 5,632 total cases, 155 of which are still infectious.
Some 24 new cases were reported in the city of Lompoc, which has now reported 3,230 total cases, including 95 that are still active.
Other daily totals from Saturday included: Isla Vista, nine new cases (1,146 total, 43 active); South County unincorporated areas including Montecito, Summerland and the city of Carpinteria, eight new cases (1,236 total, 33 active); federal prison in Lompoc, seven new cases (1,086 total, three active); unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe, seven new cases (1,195 total, 29 active); Goleta, four new cases (1,594 total, 63 active); Orcutt, three new cases (1,603 total, 27 active); unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota, three new cases (1,044 total, 20 active); and Santa Ynez Valley, two new cases (895 total, 29 active).
The geographic region for 11 cases was pending on Saturday.
A total of 129 people are receiving treatment at local hospitals, including 28 in the Intensive Care Unit. The county’s ICU availability was 31.6% as of Saturday.