Just 11 days after emergency vaccine approval from the Food and Drug Administration expanded vaccine eligibility, 15% of all 12 to 15 year olds in Santa Barbara County are partially vaccinated, according to Public Health data released Friday.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s public health director, praised this accomplishment during a news briefing Friday, calling it a “great achievement.”
“We are very excited that 15% have received their first dose and we look forward to more joining this group,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Just a few weeks ago, the Public Health Department voiced concerns about a vaccine slowdown, and moved to increase the number of walk-up clinics to encourage more people to get their vaccine appointment-free. But now, with 12 to 15 year olds eligible for a shot, Dr. Do-Reynoso said the county’s vaccination rate is increasing once again.
As of Friday, roughly 61% of the county’s eligible population has received at least one shot, and more than 49% of those eligible are fully vaccinated. With numerous areas across the nation offering vaccine incentives, such as lottery prizes or sports tickets, Dr. Do-Reynoso said the county is currently in discussion with its partners about what kind of incentives could be offered for vaccinated Santa Barbara County residents in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, California reached a milestone in the vaccination effort, with state officials announcing that two-thirds of adult residents have received at least one shot of the vaccine. It’s because of this high rate of vaccination that deaths, hospitalizations and case rates have plummeted in recent weeks, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public information officer, said Friday.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been waiting for,” Dr. Ansorg said.
The county’s case rate has been steadily decreasing over the past week, and if the county can maintain an average of less than nine new cases per day, the region is likely to meet the criteria for the first week of yellow tier qualification this Tuesday.
The county must meet the criteria for two weeks before officially moving into the yellow tier. Until then, the county will remain in the orange tier of COVID-19 restrictions.
Once the county moves into the yellow tier, places of worship, movie theaters, gyms and hotels can open at 50% capacity. Restaurants and wineries can also expand their capacity to 50% indoors in the yellow tier, while bars can open to a max of 25% capacity.
The Public Health Department reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and no new deaths. There are 54 cases across the county that are still infectious.
Santa Maria reported five new cases on Friday, and the unincorporated Goleta Valley and Gaviota reported three new cases. Santa Barbara and the unincorporated Mission Canyon reported two new cases, and both Isla Vista and Lompoc reported one new case. All
As of Friday, 15 patients were recovering from COVID-19 in the hospital, including three who were recovering in the Intensive Care Unit.