Updated December 22, 2020

COVID-19 vaccine information is evolving rapidly as vaccine trials are in process and planning for mass vaccinations is underway. This page provides emerging information and may change rapidly. Please check this page often for updates.

Santa Barbara County Update

Pfizer and Moderna have each submitted applications to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization  (EUA) of their COVID-19 vaccine.

On December 11, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for a Pfizer vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. 

On December 18, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for a Moderna vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. 

Initial doses of both vaccines will be for persons in Phase 1A. More allocations of the vaccine are anticipated to arrive very soon.

Vaccination of priority groups in Phase 1A will continue through January and February.  The Public Health Department is awaiting further guidance from CDPH on specific prioritization beyond Phase 1A.  When adequate vaccine and capacity is available in Phase 2, essential workers and persons at high risk of severe outcomes from disease will be vaccinated.  In Phase 3 the vaccine will begin to be available to the general community, and this could occur sometime between April and June.

The Santa Barbara County Health Department will be following guidelines from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to prioritize allocation of the vaccine. During Phase 1 of allocation, COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to the following persons:

Phase 1A Draft Priority Vaccine Distribution
Per CDPH guidelines 12-5-2020 Prioritized distribution to: Persons at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through their work in any role in direct health care or long-term care settings. Residents of skilled nursing  facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar long-term care setting for older or medically vulnerable individuals.
Tier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Staff of acute care hospitals, psych, correctional facility hospitalsIntermediate Care FacilitiesSpecialty clinics
Staff/residents in long term care setting serving older and high riskHome health/ home care workersLab workers
EMS personnel providing EMS servicesCommunity Health workersDental
Dialysis Center staffPrimary, correctional, urgent care clinicsPharmacy (if not included previously)

Further information on the priority tiers established by CDPH during the initial phase, when vaccine will be limited, can be found here.

COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available for the general public in the Spring of 2021. This timeline will be adjusted as the Public Health Department learns more.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration  Emergency Use Authorization of  Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine 


  • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a 2-dose series, i month apart, into the muscle.
  • The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • Side effects that have been reported with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include: • Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and redness • General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever
  • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and cannot give you COVID-19.
  • When you receive your first dose, you will get a vaccination card to show you when to return for your second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Remember to bring your card when you return.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration  Emergency Use Authorization of  Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine


  • The FDA has determined that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has met the criteria for issuance of an EUA. The totality of the available data provides clear evidence that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • The data supports that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks, supporting the vaccine’s use in millions of people 16 years of age and older, including healthy individuals.
  • FDA can assure the public and medical community that it has conducted a thorough evaluation of the available safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality information.
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine contains messenger RNA (mRNA), which is genetic material. The vaccine contains a small piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s mRNA that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’s distinctive “spike” protein. When a person receives this vaccine, their body produces copies of the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
  • Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart.
  • The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose
  • The vaccine was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease among these clinical trial participants



12.15.20 SBC Board of Supervisors Covid-19 Vaccine Updates

12.15.20 SBC Board of Supervisors Covid-19 Vaccine Updates Spanish 

Video Highlights:

  • 3900 Pfizer doses expected to arrive in the next few days
  • 2 boxes will go to Cottage Hospital and 2 boxes to Marian Medical Center.
  • 6600 doses of Moderna anticipated next week pending FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
  • An additional 2925 Pfizer doses anticipated to arrive next week.
  • All are first doses
  • Waiting on guidance for the following phases of distribution.

VIDEO: VACCINE UPDATE Lynn Fitzgibbons, MD Infectious Disease Cottage Hospital 12.14.20

12.14.20 Covid Vaccine Update

12.14.20 Covid Vaccine Update Spanish

Video Highlights: 

  • Pfizer vaccine FDA approved for EUA. 
  • Rapid distribution underway across the country. 
  • First vaccinations will be distributed to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. 
  • New technology MRNA. 
  • Discussion of data: efficacy and safety 


Santa Barbara County Public Health Jan Koegler, Vaccine Distribution

Santa Barbara County Public Health Jan Koegler, Vaccine Distribution – Spanish

Video Highlights:

  • Moderna Inc. vaccine in FDA review. Approval anticipated in near future.
  • Shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine expected to begin week of December 14th and potentially Moderna in the following week.
  • Anticipated: First shipment of 3900 (Pfizer-BioNTech) doses and 6600 (Moderna Inc.) following soon after.
  • Santa Barbara County hospitals will receive and begin vaccinating staff over the next 2 weeks.
  • Santa Barbara County is following the CDPH guidance for priority distribution of the vaccine.
  • 1st tier of phase 1: (Dec) Hospital staff, residents and staff of assisted living, skilled nursing and other licensed care facilities serving vulnerable individuals.
  • 1st tier of phase 1: (Early Jan) Emergency medical personnel, dialysis personnel
  • Phase 2: Essential Workers, Law Enforcement, others – waiting on further direction from CDPH

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccinations

When the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the general public, locations where you can get vaccinated will likely be similar to the seasonal flu vaccine. These could include, community vaccination events coordinated by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, healthcare provider locations, and retail pharmacies.

If you are a prioritized healthcare worker, or resident of a skilled or assisted living facility, you can get information on how to get vaccinated during the first phase of vaccination from your employer or manager of the residential facility.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of charge. As is customary with government-purchased vaccines, healthcare professionals could charge insurers for the cost of administering the vaccine.

Santa Barbara County is developing a COVID-19 vaccination plan with the intent of preparing our county for the phased implementation of the vaccine. Initially, a limited amount of vaccines will be available for high-risk groups (health care workers, first responders, etc.). Hospitals and other providers to high risk groups will have the first access to the vaccine. When there are increased supplies of vaccine then additional providers will be added, and we expect that they can provide vaccinations to the general public sometime in the Spring of 2021.

We are awaiting further information from the FDA regarding when the vaccine will be approved for use in persons under 18 years of age.

Currently, there are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are or soon will be undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials in the United States. Below is a description of how each type of vaccine prompts our bodies to recognize and protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19. None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19.

  • mRNA vaccines: Contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.
  • Protein subunit vaccines: include harmless pieces (proteins) of the virus that cause COVID-19 instead of the entire germ. Once vaccinated, our immune system recognizes that the proteins don’t belong in the body and begins making T-lymphocytes and antibodies. If we are ever infected in the future, memory cells will recognize and fight the virus.
  • Vector vaccines: contain a weakened version of a live virus—a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19—that has genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted in it (this is called a viral vector). Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus if we are infected in the future.

Additional Resources

The Importance of Vaccines

The novel coronavirus is a new and formidable foe. Right now, researchers and scientists, with the full support of the US government, are racing against the clock to develop a safe and efficacious vaccine against the virus and the disease it causes, #COVID19. Watch the video below, to learn what makes vaccines so important, and how history, science, experience, and ingenuity all point to the eventual development of one or more successful vaccines against the coronavirus.