The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics at schools and community centers around the county to improve access to the shots, especially in the age group with the lowest vaccination rate: children 5-to-11 years old.
Kids in the 5-11 age group are being vaccinated for COVID-19 at a slower rate than older children, according to county and state public health data.
Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric shots were authorized for this age group in November and by the end of January, 20% of Santa Barbara County children were fully vaccinated and another 10% had received one shot of the two-dose series.
Nationally, it took six weeks for 20% of children 5-11 to get their first shot, while children in the 12-15 age group hit that milestone within two weeks of the vaccines being approved, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by Kaiser Health News.
In Santa Barbara County, the rate of COVID-19 vaccine boosters in older children (23.1% for the 12-15 age group) is higher than the fully vaccinated rate for younger children (20% for 5-11).
About 11,700 children under 12 are on their way to being vaccinated and another 27,000 are not as of January.
Throughout California, 24.1% of children in the 5-11 age group are fully vaccinated and another 9.4% have had one dose.
COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for use in everyone 5 years old and older, and pediatric vaccines for younger children could be approved in the next few months.
To boost access to the pediatric doses of the shots, the Public Health Department is offering school-based vaccination clinics. It held 14 at elementary schools in January and has more planned for February.
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone.
Upcoming Vaccination Clinics
The following clinics offer the pediatric Pfizer vaccine (for the 5-11 age group), the Pfizer vaccine (for people 12 and older, and boosters for people 16 and older), and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for adults to get a single-dose or booster shot.
Santa Maria Fairpark, at 937 S. Thornburg St. in Santa Maria, is open every Sunday through Thursday. The clinic hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays.
Tuesday, Feb. 8: Adam Elementary School in Santa Maria
500 Windsor St., 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 9: Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Barbara
1990 Laguna St., 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 10: David Sanchez Elementary School in Santa Maria
804 Liberty St., 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 12: Santa Barbara City College Student Services
721 Cliff Drive, 9 a.m. to noon
Thursday, Feb. 17: Washington Elementary School in Santa Barbara
290 Lighthouse Road, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 18: Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria
5315 Foothill Road, 9 a.m. to noon
Tuesday, Feb. 22: Fairlawn Elementary School in Santa Maria
120 Mary Drive, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 23: Boys & Girls Clubs of Mid Central Coast in Santa Maria
901 N. Railroad Ave., 3:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 26: Santa Barbara Junior High School
721 E. Cota St., 9 a.m. to noon
There is a regular vaccination clinic in Isla Vista that offers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnon & Johnson doses, but not pediatric Pfizer doses. That one is held every Tuesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Embarcadero Hall, at 935 Embarcadero del Norte. Free parking is available in UC Santa Barbara’s Lot 40. Appointments are recommended via MyTurn, with limited walk-ins available.
Doses are also available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices and at other health-care providers.
To find more information about COVID-19 vaccines and find a provider near you, visit https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/ on the county Public Health Department website.
Use the state’s MyTurn portal at myturn.ca.gov to find vaccine providers and make appointments.
The county website also has answers to some frequently asked questions about vaccines for children, such as: Why should my child get vaccinated? What are vaccine side effects in children? How can I prepare my child to get vaccinated?
Vaccination status affects how K-12 schools treat students who are exposed to someone who tests positive. Unvaccinated children usually have to quarantine at home, which means they miss in-person school, while vaccinated children usually do not have to quarantine at home.
A lot of children are missing school because of exposure cases, the San Luis Obispo Tribune recently reported.