Credit: Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

Those 65 and older have a little while longer to wait if they live in Santa Barbara County and want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that seniors 65 and older are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Santa Barbara County just isn’t there yet. The county has so far administered 17,032 doses of the vaccine, or about 44 percent of the total 38,075 doses allocated to it. And it is in the midst of organizing the vaccine effort and acquiring enough doses to meet the demand.

“If you’re not currently eligible to be vaccinated, please know that we’re working on your phase,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said. “We are actively working to make sure you get vaccinated as soon as more vaccines are available.”

Right now, the order of priority puts patient-facing health-care workers first with those 75 and older following close behind. Both groups are currently getting vaccines now. Those who are 65 and older as well as those in childcare, grocery, agriculture, and emergency services are next in line to receive their vaccines.

Those looking for information about their eligibility for vaccines can dial 2-1-1. If you are over 75, you can make an appointment at the vaccination information site at

Paige Batson, deputy director for the Public Health Department, also gave an update on the possible bad batch of the Moderna vaccine which the state requested health-care providers stop using. The batch reportedly created allergic side effects in six out of the thousands of people who received it. This batch has been distributed to 287 providers in the state with no reports of any other clusters or individual reactions.

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“Santa Barbara County received 3,900 doses of this particular Moderna lot number,” Batson said. “All providers who have received this allocation reported that none have been administered.”

Batson also reported that other variants in the virus have begun to pop up all over the world. She said that the first variant, identified as B.1.1.7 in the United Kingdom, has been characterized as spreading more easily and quickly than other variants, though it isn’t more deadly. That variant, and other mutations, are close to home but not seen in Santa Barbara County.

“The newest variant, L452R, has been detected in several counties in the state,” Batson said. “That includes Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. It’s too early to tell how prevalent that variant is or if it’ll spread more rapidly than others.”

The vaccines and virus variants are coming at a time when Santa Barbara County is still facing all-time COVID-19 highs. Do-Reynoso could only describe the first week of 2021’s data as “very elevated and concerning, although somewhat stable.” In other words, numbers are remaining high but they’re not shooting up any more.

The positivity rate, currently 16 percent, is the number of confirmed positive COVID-19 tests in the county divided by all the tests administered overall. The adjusted case rate, which increased by one percent, is the number of new cases per day for every 100,000 residents of the county averaged over a week. That now stands at 89.3.

As of press time there are 342 new cases, for a total of 2,465 active cases. This week, five more people died as a result of the virus, 205 are hospitalized from it — 49 of whom are in an intensive care unit. The county has a zero percent adjusted intensive-care-unit capacity. This does not necessarily mean that there are zero ICU beds because the state uses a formula to allow bed space for non-COVID patients. However, it does mean that hospitals are preparing to operate in crisis-care mode and have a plan in place for making decisions like rationing resources and staff or having to choose between giving one ventilator to two patients who need it.

At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.


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