Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

[Update: April 6, 2021, 10 a.m.]  Vaccination appointments at the Santa Barbara Hilton filled a half hour after Public Health lowered the eligible age, posted the information online, and issued a press release. Public Health spokesperson Jackie Ruiz said, “It happened very, very quickly, and it means folks are paying attention. That’s a good thing.” And it hadn’t surprised them, as newly eligible groups have been more excited and more eager to be vaccinated.

Public Health PODs (Points of Distribution) appointments open every Monday morning, but the one at the Santa Barbara Hilton this week filled slowly, even the signups for the popular single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “which was quite surprising,” Ruiz said.

“We had to make a decision, because we can’t leave vaccines that don’t go into an arm,” she explained, “so we expanded eligibility a little bit earlier to have those folks take advantage of the vaccine.” She said they were excited that a 15-year-old was able to sign on who got an appointment for the date of their 16th birthday.

Ruiz said 1,400 doses of Moderna came from the weekly state allocation, “and we got a really nice bonus this week” of 1,200 shots of the Johnson & Johnson through the federal Health Care Centers program.

Close to 10,000 appointments will be available for the Santa Barbara Hilton super-POD that opens next week, with signups to start at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, Ruiz said.

The vaccine age differs for the three vaccines, she noted. When the drug makers went through their testing trials last year, Pfizer tested people as young as 16, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson tested to 18 years of age. As for getting second shots of Pfizer and Moderna, Ruiz said it was important to return to the original location because the second allocation is based on the place the first was given: “That’s how we plan our clinics. We have a certain number we have to do per hour, which is why it’s so critical for people to return to same location as where they had their first dose.”

[Update: 5:30 p.m.] Toward the end of the workday, Public Health announced it would open its clinics to younger residents. The ongoing clinic at Santa Maria’s Allan Hancock College, which is dispensing the Pfizer vaccine, is now open to people as young as 16 years old. The two clinics in Santa Barbara below, which are giving the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, are now open to people 18 years and older. (The three vaccines were tested to different ages.) To sign up for the Santa Maria clinics, go to the county Public Health website here.

As vaccine becomes available, Lompoc Valley Medical Center will drop the eligible age, too. As of April 15, pharmacies, hospitals, and health-care providers will be able to vaccinate younger people, or sooner if vaccine comes available.

[Original Story] Two vaccination clinics in Santa Barbara take place this Tuesday and Thursday for the currently eligible group, which consists of people over the age of 50; workers in health, education, child care, agriculture, food, and emergency services; and people between the ages of 16 and 49 with high risk medical conditions. Both clinics will be held at the Hilton Santa Barbara — known as the Red Lion Inn when first built — at 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard.

• Tuesday, April 6, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Moderna vaccine will be dispensed, which requires a booster shot in four weeks.

• Thursday, April 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot will be given.

The Public Health clinics require some form of documentation that matches the name on the appointment and also one that shows proof of residency or work in Santa Barbara County, such as a driver’s license, business card, work ID, library card, letter from an employer, bank ATM card, Costco card, electric bill, matricula consular, paystub, passport, money transfer receipt, and so on.

Appointments can be made at the Public Health website (scroll down for more times). For people without computer access, please call 2-1-1 and select option 4.

Public Health requests that people who are not eligible avoid taking an appointment spot from someone else who is eligible and warns that people who come to the vaccination clinic without an appointment will be turned away.

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