Noozhawk reader Bob Manning emailed to ask: Why is Santa Barbara County not reporting people with COVID-19 vaccinations and those who have recovered from the malady?
People who get infected with the novel coronavirus and recover have some level of natural immunity to reinfection, but public health officials say they do not know how strong that protection is, or how long it lasts.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said the department doesn’t count natural immunity when officials analyze progress toward the goal of herd immunity — the percentage of the population immunized that would make it difficult for the virus to spread.
Currently, that goal is about 80%, and the county has fully vaccinated 47.1% of residents — with many more who have received at least their first shot of the two-dose vaccines.
Natural immunity is considered “the cushion,” Do-Reynoso told Noozhawk.
“Even if you have natural immunity, I encourage you to get immunized because of the variants. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been shown to be effective against the circulating variants, and we are unsure of natural immunity and how that immunity might stack up,” Do-Reynoso said.
“We don’t know about the strength or duration of natural immunity.”
Public health officials also don’t know how long immunity protection from the vaccines will last, but clinical trials and real-world research have shown all three vaccines to be effective in preventing infection and serious illness.
As of this week, 215,204 people were fully vaccinated in the county.
About 34,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and recovered since March 2020, according to public health records. It’s unknown how many of them have been vaccinated.
Those cases were reported over a 15-month period. About half of those cases were reported in 2020, and the rest were reported through mid-June in 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines are free and available by appointment and walk-up at providers throughout Santa Barbara County.
— Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.