Cottage Health administers COVID-19 vaccine to residents 75 and older
A weight has been lifted off the shoulders of many seniors in the community this week.
The mood at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital drive-through vaccine clinic on Friday afternoon was filled with joy and heavy sighs of relief as health care workers and seniors 75 and older received their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thursday marked day one of the second doses for seniors who made appointments through Cottage Health, and staff members administered a record number of Pfizer vaccinations in a day, totaling 1,500.
On Friday, they were set to give 1,000 Moderna doses.
Altogether, as of Friday, Cottage Health had provided around 17,000 total vaccinations to both its staff and the vulnerable members of the community.
The drive-through clinic in Goleta operated like a well-oiled machine as Cottage Health staff and clinic volunteers ushered anxious recipients through the parking lot. Those receiving their vaccinations didn’t even have to step out of their cars.
Paula Bruice has lived in Santa Barbara for 50 years. As she sat during the observation period after receiving her shot, she told the News-Press that getting the second dose is “such a relief.”
“I have a whole list of things I’m going to start doing — going to a restaurant, meeting with friends,” she said, adding that many of her friends had received their vaccines too.
When asked if she was nervous or skeptical to get the vaccine, Ms. Bruice said, “Not at all. I’m a scientist, so I know how it works.”
She said the second dose “very much so” put her mind at ease, and she sang praises of the clinic’s process.
“I’m just impressed at how beautifully organized they are. It made everything so easy,” she said.
Community members receiving their vaccine at the clinic, which was across the street from Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, pull up to the check-in tent and provide their information. They then proceed to the tents where nurses provide the vaccine shots and afterward hang out for a 15-minute observation period.
The result is a COVID-19 vaccine in a matter of half an hour, without stepping foot outside a car.
More than 120 staff and volunteers are on site each day to make rapid vaccination possible.
Mary Jo Spencer has lived in Santa Barbara for 44 years, and while she’s not quite 75, she’s a healthcare worker, so she was able to receive her second dose on Friday.
“I am so excited, I am so relieved, I am so blessed,” she told the News-Press. “It’s a gift — it really is, and it takes the fear and pressure off of us, absolutely.”
However, Ms. Spencer said it’s important that seniors and all other community members remain cautious, even with a vaccine in their system.
“I trust the vaccine. I really do,” she said. “But we have variants now, and we just have to be careful. We have to respect each other, be careful and create a community spirit of cooperation with this kind of method.”
She, too, acknowledged the clinic’s efficiency.
“Cottage Goleta Valley, Sansum — they’re wonderful. Please note how organized the effort is here, how seamless it’s been. I’m touched and happy to be part of the community,” Ms. Spencer said.
Steve Lyons received his first dose of the vaccine four weeks ago from Friday, and he has been a resident of Santa Barbara for 41 years. He was so eager for his COVID-19 vaccine that he showed up to the clinic an hour early.
“I’m excited, I feel good and I’m happy about it,” he told the News-Press. “I was nervous maybe a month or two before I got it (the first dose), but I became less nervous as I went. I wanted to see other people get it first. I didn’t want to be the first one.”
He said that while he’s very anxious to travel, he’s still going to hold off until more of the community is vaccinated. However, Mr. Lyons said he plans on getting a shoulder replacement surgery next month that he has been putting off.
“Now that I’m doing this, I feel safer to do that,” he said. “If they have another one (vaccine) available in two months from now, I’ll take that one too.”
He added, “The process here is great — very efficient, very well-organized and I appreciate everyone who’s here.”
Gena Topping is a registered nurse and a trauma program manager at Cottage. She was administering vaccinations Friday afternoon in good spirits.
“It’s been running really, really smoothly,” she told the News-Press. “Everybody’s so grateful to be here, and we’re grateful to be giving the vaccines today, so no complaints here.”
Ms. Topping said of the vaccine recipients, “They’re pretty well-informed. They know what to expect. There’s been a little bit of questions and anxiety regarding potential for increased side effects for the second dose, so they have questions about that, but they know the routine since they’ve been through this once, so it’s been good.”
Overall, the nurse said the vaccines are a relief all across the board.
“I think one of the best parts of it is not only getting our community safer, but just seeing the gratitude that everyone’s feeling and that sort of weight being lifted off their shoulders,” she said. “I’ve been hearing that a lot from a lot of the patients today, so it’s been really cool.”
All vaccine clinics offered by Cottage are by appointment only, and everyone currently receiving their second dose received their first one from Cottage as well. Learn more at www.cottagehealth.org/covid19.