In the last regularly scheduled county COVID-19 press briefing, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials broke down the latest vaccination trends based on age and ethnicity.
As of Friday, nearly 69% of all eligible county residents (those age 12 or older) have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 57% of all eligible residents were fully vaccinated, according to Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso.
The county continues to see the highest proportion of residents fully vaccinated among the 75-plus age group, with 74.5% of residents fully vaccinated. The 50-64 age group has the second-highest rate of vaccination at 72.6%, followed by 65- to 74-year-olds at 69.7%, Do-Reynoso said.
Nearly 50% of residents in both the 30-49 and the 16-29 age group are fully vaccinated, and 22.7% of 12- to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated, according to Do-Reynoso. Residents between ages 12 and 15 became eligible to receive the vaccine at the beginning of May.
In Santa Barbara County, the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander community has the highest vaccination percentage at 64%, according to Do-Reynoso. Of white county residents, 45.6% are fully vaccinated, and 43.8% of Asian residents are fully vaccinated.
About 36% of Hispanic/Latino community members are fully vaccinated, nearly 28% of Black/African-American residents are fully vaccinated, and a little more than 22% of residents of multiple races are fully vaccinated, Do-Reynoso said. About 22% of American Indian/Native Alaskan community members are fully vaccinated.
“You can see that vaccinations by race and ethnicity, we do have some groups lagging,” Do-Reynoso said, adding that Public Health has 22 community partners doing outreach and education across the county to increase vaccination rates.
The county has both first and second dose vaccine appointments widely available, and residents can look to the Public Health website or MyTurn to find appointments.
Public Health Officer Henning Ansorg warned of the rapid spread of the Delta variant worldwide and domestically, saying that 10% of all COVID-19 cases still infectious in the United States were identified as the Delta variant. The variant is more transmissible and, therefore, more dangerous, Ansorg said.
On average, one person infected with the variant has the potential to spread it to five or six other people, compared with two or three others, Ansorg said. The variant also has caused more hospitalizations in young people, he added.
Ansorg said that all of the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, with the most reliable protection after receiving the second dose in a two-dose regimen.
As California transitions into a state of reopening, Cal/OSHA released new workplace masking guidance on Thursday, and shortly after, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in accordance with the new guidelines that will go into effect as soon as it is filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The new guidance allows fully vaccinated employees to go without masks at work, except in locations where masks are required for everyone or in the event of an outbreak. Physical distancing requirements also will be retired except in the event of an outbreak, and individual employers can still decide to require masks for everyone, vaccinated or not, Do-Reynoso said.
Employers must document that employees who do not wear masks indoors are fully vaccinated. The documentation can include proof of vaccination or self-attestation, Do-Reynoso said.
The California Department of Public Health introduced a new tool on Friday that will allow community members access to a digital version of their vaccine record, Do-Reynoso said. Residents who choose to sign up just need to enter a name, date of birth, email address or phone number associated with the vaccine record, and create a four-digit PIN, she added.
If all of the information submitted matches the vaccine record, the person will get a text or email with a link to the digital record, Do-Reynoso said.
People can sign up for the digital COVID-19 vaccine record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.
The new tool is not a vaccine passport, and residents are not required to obtain a digital COVID-19 vaccine record. Do-Reynoso said that it’s just another way of providing proof of vaccination.
COVID-19 case rates are at an all-time low compared with the past six months, Do-Reynoso said.
In the past week, the county has reported 38 new cases, three of which were reported Friday. There were 35 cases still considered to be infectious countywide on Friday.
There were no new deaths reported on Friday, and the county’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll remained at 455.
COVID-19 hospitalizations countywide also have remained low and stable.
“Ever since the vaccination campaign has gained traction, overall COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to decrease significantly,” Ansorg said.
There were 12 people hospitalized because of the virus on Friday, including three being treated in intensive-care units. None of the hospitalized residents was vaccinated, Ansorg said.
“Our vaccines … are so effective that it is becoming a rarity for people who are vaccinated to be seen in any hospital setting,” he said. “If you are procrastinating to get the shot, please make it a priority to protect yourself and your loved ones now. With every additional individual getting inoculated, there’s one more person who cannot pass this virus along.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.