The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will expand vaccine eligibility for people age 16 and older starting April 12, beating the state’s projected April 15 goal by three days.
During a press conference Friday, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Public Health Department, said vaccine appointments will be available for people 16 and older starting April 12.
The announcement comes just a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced vaccine eligibility would be expanded for people over the age of 50 on April 1 and for people over the age of 16 two weeks later.
Thus far, Public Health has fully vaccinated 63% of the 75 and older population and 25% of the 65 to 74 population. In addition, 79% of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have received the first dose of the vaccine.
During the briefing, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s health officer, dispelled speculation that any of the COVID vaccines could cause infertility. He warned that people should be cautious about misinformation circling on the internet, and instead turn to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for evidence and guidance.
“There is absolutely no scientific or anecdotal evidence that (the vaccines) have impacts on fertility at all,” Dr. Ansorg said.
In other news, Dr. Do-Reynoso reported that case counts have “flatlined” or plateaued across the county, meaning that cases are no longer on a steady downward slope but are staying stagnant. She said the county must “double down” on its precautions in order to meet requirements for the orange tier.
“I want to say that we just need to be more diligent in following our guidelines in wearing our masks and not gathering and keeping our gatherings small and guarding our social distance,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said. “I think that when we get relaxed in our safety precautions that’s when we see plateauing of our case rates.”
On Friday, the Public Health Department reported 41 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s overall total to 33,020 cases over the course of the pandemic. No deaths were reported Friday, and officials announced that one death that was reported last week has been removed “due to a lack of proper confirmatory documentation.”
The highest rate of new infections was recorded in Lompoc on Friday with a total of 13 (44 active).
Officials reported nine new cases in Santa Barbara (39 active), seven new cases in Santa Maria (58 active) and four new cases in Orcutt (13 active).
All other areas reported less than three new cases on Friday.
A total of 39 people are receiving treatment at local hospitals, including 13 in the Intensive Care Unit. The county’s ICU availability was 38.5% on Friday.
Cottage Health issued an update on Friday, announcing that it is caring for a total of 286 patients across all campuses. Some 196 are acute care patients, 12 of whom are on ventilators. Some 17 acute care patients are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as 17 others who are confirmed to be COVID-19 positive.
To check the status of vaccine appointments, visit the Public Health Department’s website at publichealthsbc.org or dial 211.