By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
Beginning February 16, Santa Barbara County will expand the vaccine eligibility to Phase 1b, Tier 1. Due to the large number of eligible recipients in this phase and the very short vaccine supply, the Public Health Department has to roll out this phase in an incremental way. We will start with persons who are age 65 and older, followed by persons working in the sectors of Education/Childcare, Emergency Services, Food and Agriculture as soon as more vaccine becomes available.
Please understand that due to the short supply of vaccines, appointments for vaccinations will be very limited at this point.
Just under 6,000 doses of vaccine are expected to arrive in Santa Barbara County next week, the vast majority of which are slated for second doses. Approximately 11,000 second doses will be administered in the next two weeks. Santa Barbara County currently has over 40,000 residents between the ages of 65-74 years old. Appointments will likely become available through health care providers and pharmacies, before they become available at Public Health vaccination sites.
As there is a limited supply of the vaccine, health care providers including primary care doctors and hospitals are notifying patients on appointment availability when supply exists.
People may also sign up for vaccine updates and information from the county here.
These next few weeks will be a time of transition for vaccine distribution. Santa Barbara County will be switching to a new sign up platform MyTurn.ca.gov and to the new State-run distribution process through Blue Shield. Both will come into effect for Santa Barbara County after March 14.
In the meantime, several new vaccination opportunities are becoming available using additional direct vaccine supply distribution by the Federal Government to some local pharmacies and to our Community Health Care Centers and County Health Clinics.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccine and countywide availability, please visit www.publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/ or call 2-1-1 and press “4” for assistance. The Santa Barbara County Call Center is available 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.