Residents 50 and up eligible April 1, 16 and up April 15
Hope is on the horizon for Santa Barbara County residents aged 50 and older as both county-wide and state-wide vaccine expansions will accommodate this age group in the next eligibility tier.
The Public Health Department announced Thursday that county residents aged 50 and older can now register for a vaccine clinic at Lompoc’s Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center, which will occur Sunday through April 3.
“We are very excited to expand eligibility to more community members, beginning with the County Public Health Vaccination Clinics,” Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, county public health director, said in a statement. “Locally we have seen a promising increase in our vaccine supply, and Public Health is ready to welcome community members newly eligible for vaccination.”
In addition, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state will expand its vaccine eligibility in the coming weeks, unveiling plans to open vaccine appointments to residents ages 50 and older starting April 1 and all residents ages 16 and older April 15.
The governor, who spoke from a vaccine clinic in Orange County on Thursday, said the expansion of vaccine eligibility is coming due to an influx of doses set to arrive in the state in the coming weeks.
“In just a few weeks, there will be no rules or no limitations as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered,” Gov. Newsom said.
During his speech, the governor also announced that, as of Thursday, anyone accompanying an eligible family member to get vaccinated can also receive a dose at the appointment.
“Regardless of your age, regardless of your pre-existing condition, if someone comes in eligible under the existing rules, but with a family member, we will accommodate the family member, no questions asked,” Gov. Newsom said.
As of Thursday, statewide allocations neared 16 million doses, which Gov. Newsom said pushes California ahead of any other state by almost 6 million doses. The state received 1.8 million doses of the vaccine this week, yet Gov. Newsom said the state’s allocation will be nearing 2.5 million doses per week in a few weeks.
With coronavirus cases steadily decreasing locally and statewide since vaccinations began in the state, Gov. Newsom said counties could start moving into the green tier, or restriction-free status, in the “foreseeable future.”
“Our only constraint is manufactured supply,” Gov. Newsom said, praising the state’s increased infrastructure that is already ready to handle 4 million doses a week by the end of next month.
With vaccines taking a trickle-down effect from the federal government, the influx in the state comes from expanded efforts by the White House to ramp up production and distribution.
President Joe Biden held his first press conference as commander-in-chief Thursday, announcing
that his administration set a new goal of administering 200 million vaccine doses by his 100th day in office. The administration met its initial goal of 100 million doses by his 58th day in office.
“I know it’s ambitious — twice our original goal — but no other country in the world has even come close, not even close, to what we’re doing,” President Biden said during the press conference.
In conjunction with the efforts of health departments nationwide, pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Vons have taken a leading role in disseminating the vaccine from its chain stores.
In California, 286 CVS locations are currently distributing the vaccine, with 119 new CVS vaccination sites added just last week. Lisa Kalajian, a district leader for CVS Health based in Los Angeles, said the company’s efforts have been “extremely successful.”
“As you can imagine, everyone has been extremely eager to receive their vaccine, and the feedback has been very positive,” Ms. Kalajian told the News-Press.
Since many patients are accustomed to using CVS for their prescriptions and flu shots, Ms. Kalajian said having customers come to CVS to receive their COVID vaccine “has been a great moment for our patients and community members.”
As the vaccine rollout expands, Ms. Kalajian said the ultimate goal is to open vaccine clinics at all 10,000 CVS stores nationwide, which the company projects will allow them to administer as many as 25 million doses each month.
“We’re really proud to be a part of bringing normalcy back,” Ms. Kalajian said.
In Santa Barbara County specifically, Vons Pharmacy, CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens are among the major pharmacy chains participating in the vaccine rollout efforts. To check vaccine eligibility, visit publichealthsbc.org or call 211.