Santa Barbara’s First Three COVID Vaccines Administered by Cottage Health

Vaccine Protects Against Symptoms, but Not Necessarily Transmission

Nurse Lorenzo Vasquez | Credit: Cottage Health

“Thankful” and “grateful” were the feelings expressed by the first three at Cottage Health to receive the coronavirus vaccine: “But this changes nothing,” Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons followed up.

The chair of Cottage’s infectious disease division, Fitzgibbons explained that no one who received the vaccine would change any of their careful COVID personal protection practices. “We know the vaccine protects against symptoms, but whether it protects against transmission of the disease is still a question.”

So for even Lorenzo Vasquez, a nurse whose birthday present today was a vaccination, it’ll be home and a shower and cleaning everything he wore before he will celebrate, Vasquez said. But he was thankful the vaccine meant he could take better care of his patients.

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Cottage CEO Ron Werft said he could sense the cheers in the hospital when the Pfizer vaccine arrived at the loading dock around 10 o’clock this morning — 1,950 doses, but it could take two to three weeks before all personnel could be vaccinated. About 150 more people would receive the drug on Friday, and another 320 per day next week.

They had discovered each vial held about six doses, as was being reported around the country, and that would increase the number vaccinated by 20 percent, Werft said. As for staffing levels, Cottage was in a better position than many hospitals around the country, he said, but it was the number one focus for the hospital.

“As long as people in the community continue to protect themselves,” Werft said, the physicians, nurses, and environmental services workers would continue to be relatively well staffed.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center vaccinated employees today, as well. Dr. William Pierce, the chief of medical staff, claimed the vaccine was not painful. “It helps me feel very safe working in a hospital with COVID patients,” he said, while acknowledging there would be side effects. An undisclosed amount of vaccine, which had been shared by Marian Medical, will be given doctors, nurses, and environmental services workers for about five days, the chief of operations and pharmacist Dr. Naishadh Buch said.

At every turn, the speakers at Cottage emphasized their dependence on the public staying vigilant and avoiding COVID: wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands, they said.

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