A small number of residents ages 65 to 74 in Santa Barbara County had the opportunity to register for COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday, with limited appointments filling rapidly at local hospitals and pharmacies.
Due to limited vaccine supplies, most of the county's 40,000 residents who make up the age group may have to wait several weeks for an appointment. Just under 6,000 doses were available this week, with more allocations to be announced in the near future, public health officials said.
"Vaccine supplies are still very limited, and health care providers are simultaneously ensuring those that received a first dose will also be able to receive a second dose," Public Health spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz said.
At this time, first dose appointments are not available at Public Health vaccination sites operating in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara, and not all sites offering appointments were added to the county's vaccine website until Tuesday afternoon.
Sav-On and Vons pharmacies offering vaccine appointments, now all filled, are listed on the department's vaccine website, along with a link to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's vaccine waitlist and appointment registration links for Lompoc Valley Medical Center and Marian Regional Medical Center.
Marian Regional, which receives vaccine allocations directly from the state along with county allocations, offered 3,600 appointments between Thursday and Saturday. Lompoc Valley Medical Center is permitting residents to request an appointment through email, but said they may have to wait to hear back about scheduling.
With various signup options from different providers, the process was less than straightforward for some individuals.
After the county's Friday announcement about upcoming appointments for residents 65 and older, Santa Maria resident Sharon Wheeler, 67, said she struggled to find any information about appointment availability, including at Marian Regional.
"I called Marian and the [representative] said their available vaccine will be used for second doses," Wheeler said.
However, on Tuesday morning, she was relieved to find an appointment signup link from the hospital, and was able to register herself and her husband, Tony.
"We are getting the vaccine to protect ourselves from COVID-19 as well as protect our family, friends and community, and help stop the pandemic," she said.
For information about COVID-19 vaccines in Santa Barbara County, visit publichealthsbc.org/vaccine. To register for available appointments directly through Marian Regional, visit signupgenius.com/go/10c0d44ada92ea3f8ce9-mrmc8.
Vaccine delivery delayed
The Public Health Department also announced Tuesday that hundreds of Moderna doses set to arrive in the county early this week will be delayed due to severe weather conditions across the country.
As a result, around 800 appointments scheduled for Wednesday at the county's Santa Maria vaccination site have been canceled and will be rescheduled for next week, according to officials.
“The Public Health Department understands the critical nature of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and will be working diligently to ensure all community members are rescheduled in a timely manner,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said.
Daily COVID-19 cases
After delaying Monday's daily case update due to the Presidents Day holiday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 70 new COVID-19 cases from Monday, followed by 60 cases and four deaths from the illness on Tuesday.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county now total 30,991, with 597 cases still active and contagious, according to county public health data.
Of the four deaths reported Tuesday, all were of individuals over the age of 70 who resided in Santa Maria, Orcutt, Goleta, and the area of Goleta Valley and Gaviota, according to county data.
As of Tuesday, 376 deaths from COVID-19 have been confirmed in the county.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have dropped to their lowest rates in two months, with 106 individuals currently hospitalized, including 21 in the intensive care unit, according to county data.
In Santa Maria, 143 out of 10,493 total cases remain active and 144 individuals have died.
In Orcutt, 31 out of 1,621 total cases remain active and 20 individuals have died.
In Lompoc, 84 out of 3,256 total cases remain active and 40 individuals have died.
In the Santa Ynez Valley areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 27 out of 909 total cases remain active and 15 individuals have died.
In the North County area of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, 24 out of 1,206 total cases remain active and 18 individuals have died.
In San Luis Obispo County, public health officials reported 311 new cases and five deaths from the illness between Friday and Tuesday, with recent case updates delayed by the Monday holiday.
The Public Health Department now has confirmed a total of 19,210 cases in the county, with 821 cases still active and contagious, according to county data.
Confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county now total 210.
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