As more Californians are vaccinated, Gov. Newson announces June 15 reopening
California could end its tiered reopening system June 15 and fully reopen — provided hospitalization rates remain low and vaccinations are widely distributed, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
The details are still vague, as California Department of Public Health says the state could resume “usual operations with common-sense risk reduction measures.”
The news corresponds with California counties, including Santa Barbara County, opening some vaccine sites to those 16 and older. The whole state will open eligibility April 15, as announced March 25.
Santa Barbara County Public Health vaccination sites are open to those 16 and older; though only the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer is approved for those 16 and 17 years of age.
Pharmacies and other third-party providers are only vaccinating those 50 and older, high-risk populations and groups of essential workers until April 15.
Public Health administered the Moderna vaccine to those at least 18 years of age Tuesday at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Volunteers and members of the Medical Reserve Corps staffed the clinic.
Young faces filled the vaccination line Tuesday — less than 24 hours after becoming eligible.
Nancy Lapolla, the vaccination pod manager, was excited to see young community members.
She runs the vaccination site Tuesdays and previously worked as the director for Santa Barbara County’s emergency medical services agency.
“I think it’s awesome (that everyone’s able to get vaccinated). I love it,” she said. “I love to be able to, you know, see more and more people get vaccinated.”
Francesca Cicciarello, a Santa Barbara City College student from Italy, was surprised when the county opened doses to all adults. She expected to have to wait until the summer.
“It’s great, especially because I’m Italian and over there they are having problems getting the vaccine available for everybody,” she said. “I study here, so it’s just great that we can finally get vaccinated and get over these crazy times.”
With the added immunity from the vaccine, she’s looking forward to being able to travel home to see family.
Sebastian Buras was planning to get vaccinated April 15, but his roommate told him about the expanded eligibility Monday.
He immediately booked an appointment for the next day and noticed that spots filled up within 10 minutes of the announcement.
For Kira Lazzarini, who has been volunteering at the vaccine site once a week for the past five weeks, the rate of vaccination hasn’t changed.
She ushers approximately 1,400 people through the line each day, and appointments are continually filled.
The demand for vaccines was ongoing when Public Health opened eligibility, Ms. Lapolla said. She thinks officials opened up vaccination sites to conform to CDC recommendations.
“We want to try to be as responsive to (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as we can,” she said. “So we discussed it, and it’s an opportunity to just get as many people vaccinated as we can.”
She also notes that more appointments are opening up.
The Public Health community vaccination clinic, which travels to a new part of the county each week, is currently vaccinating those 16+ in Santa Maria with a dose of the Pfizer shot. It will be stationed in Santa Barbara next week.
Officials are also targeting smaller communities who don’t have mass vaccination sites, like Guadalupe and Carpinteria.
“They’re always working to try to identify how we can do better and do more outreach to really help communicate and educate the communities to come in and get vaccinated,” Ms. Lapolla said.
She has noticed less hesitation from those receiving the vaccine, and people seem receptive to whatever manufacturer the site is offering.
“I thought we might be getting requests for types of vaccine, but we’re not here. And so people are happy to receive them,” she said. “And that’s our message: Don’t wait for any one type of vaccine; get whatever vaccine that you can.”
The vaccination site at the Hilton will be administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Thursday, and appointments are booked.
“I encourage everyone to take advantage of this site,” Ms. Lapolla said. “The more people we get vaccinated, the sooner we’ll be able to really get our community back to fully open.”
To sign up for a community vaccine clinic, go to publichealthsbc.org/phd-vaccination-clinics.