Public waits for additional phases during pandemic
In a live COVID-19 update Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that 454,306 vaccines have been administered statewide as of Sunday.
This is just over 35% of what the state has in possession, with 611,000 more doses on the way.
Gov. Newsom described that percentage as “not good enough.”
“We are working aggressively to accelerate our pace,” he said. “We’ve said this from day one; it’s like a flywheel the first 10-15 days. We’re going to slowly start building pace and start building, and you’re going to start seeing the more rapid distribution of this vaccine.”
He said that in the 2021 budget he proposed to the state legislature this week, he included more than $300 million for vaccine distribution. It will fund items like CALVAX, a distribution program to help manage the millions of Californians set to receive the vaccine.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reports that a total of 17,575 vaccines have arrived in the community: 8,775 from Pfizer-BioNTech and 8,800 from Moderna.
“Over 5,000 vaccines have been administered to date. As providers adjust to reporting vaccines administered, we will see more updated figures in the days and weeks ahead,” Public Health spokesperson Jackie Ruiz told the News-Press. “Many of our local skilled nursing facility residents and staff have already received their first dose of vaccine.”
Monday, Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Jon Ford received his first round of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna. He is the first in the department to receive the vaccine.
Each distribution phase has tiers. Currently, Santa Barbara County is distributing vaccines for Phase 1A, tiers one and two.
Hospital workers, staff and residents in long-term care settings serving high-risk individuals, emergency medical services providers and dialysis center staff are in tier one. Intermediate care facilities, home health workers, community health workers, and primary, correctional and urgent care clinics compose tier two.
“Persons with health conditions will begin to be vaccinated later in Phase 1B, specifically those aged 65–74 years old. The expected start date for vaccinating this group is sometime in February and March,” Ms. Ruiz said.
Essential workers in designated fields will also be eligible in Phase 1B. The framework, which comes directly from the state, is available at publichealthsbc.org/vaccine.
The state-level community vaccine advisory committee will meet from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday to finalize plans for Phase 1B and discuss 1C.
Gov. Newsom estimated that three million Californians are in Phase 1A, and Phase 1B has about eight million.
He also reported that the distribution of the vaccine manufactured by Moderna has created more hiccups in the process.
“Moderna, we’re not dealing with directly. Pfizer, we deal directly with. But Moderno has an intermediary, McKesson,” he said. “And McKesson is one of the great companies in terms of their logistics, manufacturing, distribution in the country, but it has been a little bit more of a struggle getting responses back in the first number of days.”
He hopes to work with dentists and pharmacy techs to administer the vaccine, hopefully expediting the process.
The state has established programs with Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy to administer the vaccine directly from the manufacturers, freeing officials up to coordinate with doctors and clinics.
“It’s a logistics opportunity. And that opportunity is manifest with a sense of urgency that is required of this moment, and the urgency that people demand,” Gov. Newsom said.
SBCPHD estimates Phase 2 of distribution, which opens eligibility up to anyone ages 16 or older, to start late spring.
“Distribution will be ramping up even further as more vaccines arrive in our county,” Ms. Ruiz said.
She estimates long wait times as clinics maintain physical distancing between patients, slowing down the distribution process.