A woman prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a county vaccination clinic in March at Union Plaza Senior Housing in Santa Maria.
Registered nurse Susie Thielmann with the Public Health Department prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a county vaccination clinic March at Union Plaza Senior Housing in Santa Maria. (Derek Martino / Santa Barbara Public Health Department photo)

More than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Santa Barbara County residents, and about 16% of people are fully vaccinated.

There is delayed reporting for distributed doses, and state records show even more doses than the county database — in excess of 213,000 done to date.

Weekly deliveries of the vaccines are increasing, and a new partnership brought thousands of additional doses to the Public Health Department.

Those are being used for community vaccination clinics in Santa Maria this week, and Santa Barbara next week.

Last Thursday, Cottage Health administered its 50,000th COVID-19 vaccine dose after months of drive-up clinics at its Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital location. Its urgent care clinic locations in Goleta and Buellton are also administering vaccines. 

You can find vaccination appointments for local providers on the myturn.ca.gov website here, and individual provider websites, which are consolidated on the Public Health Department page here.

Click here for more information about scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, and here for a guide to making testing and vaccination appointments by phone

The first vaccine doses arrived in Santa Barbara County in mid-December, and were reserved for patient-facing healthcare workers and emergency medical services workers.

Since Jan. 20, when 75-and-older residents became eligible, the county has prioritized older adults for vaccination, because they have a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, according to public health officials.

Across California, 39.5% of COVID-19-related deaths have been in people 80 years and older.

As of Monday, 39.5% of the county’s doses had gone to people 65 and older, a larger percentage than the statewide number of 34.6%. The county administered 36.3% of its doses to people in the 18-49 age group and 23.9% to people in the 50-64 age group. 

Residents 50 and older are eligible for vaccination now, and some younger adults qualify based on their job or medical condition. 

Everyone 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 15, but with limited supplies, not every eligible adult will be able to get an appointment right away.

The county opened up its own vaccination clinics to all ages this week and next week, ahead of that date. Look for appointments on the website here: https://publichealthsbc.org/phd-vaccination-clinics/.

All three vaccines approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration can be used for adults, but only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The state’s tracker for vaccination progress shows 78,378 people in the county fully vaccinated as of Sunday, with more than 143,000 people having at least one dose in the county. 

County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said last week that the county could reach a level of community immunity, also called herd immunity, with the novel coronavirus in July at current vaccination rates, if cases continue to drop.

The more people who are protected by vaccination, the better, because it makes it harder for the virus to spread, according to public health officials.

Do-Reynoso has previously said there is no specific goal percentage to hit herd immunity, so it’s unclear what the July assumption is based on.

Steve Popkin, CEO of Lompoc Valley Medical Center, did the math in a recent community update and found that by July, the county could vaccinate 70% of adults.

That would be about 57% of the total county population, including children who cannot yet be vaccinated, and below experts’ estimates for herd immunity (which are more in the 70-85% range).

“The population of Santa Barbara County is approximately 446,500. Of that, there are approximately 82,000 below the age of 16, leaving 364,500 vaccine-eligible individuals. Applying an assumed 30% declination rate results in 255,000 individuals who will likely request and ultimately receive a vaccination,” he said.

As of late March, the county was “about 45% of the way to where we ultimately expect to be,” he said.

“As vaccine availability has recently increased and is expected to continue increasing, most projections show Santa Barbara County reaching complete vaccination status (for those who want it) during July.”  

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.