About 10% of Santa Barbara County residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations, and health officials said the reason for the relatively slow rate is due to the state’s allocations and, ultimately, a shortage of vaccine, neither of which the county can control.

But the exact number of county residents who have been vaccinated remains elusive, as the County Public Health Department doesn’t have current data on assisted living residents who receive their vaccinations from a separate federal allocation.

In addition, the department is still trying to nail down the number of vaccine doses Marian Regional Medical Center received directly from the state as a multiple-county health care provider, Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso told the Board of Supervisors in a COVID-19 update Tuesday.

Do-Reynoso said the county has received 51,375 doses, which have been distributed to clinics, private health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and the department’s vaccination sites, and 38,334 of those doses, or 86% have been administered.

All those doses were given to health care workers and individuals who are age 75 and older, although Do-Reynoso couldn’t provide a breakdown on how many vaccines went to each group or how many residents 75 and older remain to be vaccinated.

But she said Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital had a waiting list of about 11,000 people and Sansum Clinic had a waiting list of at least 8,000.

“There are people in our county 90 years old that haven’t been vaccinated yet,” 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart pointed out.

“All the counties are feeling the scarcity of vaccines,” Do-Reynoso said, noting the state receives allocations of 600,000 doses per week.

Do-Reynoso said the county ordered another 6,000 doses last Thursday and explained the weekly allocation is based on the county’s population, the number of health care workers and the percentage of population age 65 and older.

“We are getting in Santa Barbara County all the vaccine we possibly can,” 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said.

Do-Reynoso also pointed out the additional 12,955 doses reported sent directly to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria was not correct, and that the correct figure is likely closer to 8,500 doses.

In addition, the county doesn’t know how many assisted living facility residents have been vaccinated, which is done under contract by CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.

While the county and its high-volume partners enters each vaccination in CARE, the California Immunization Record System, within 24 hours, Do-Reynoso said she doesn’t know how the pharmacies enter that data, adding “the state has admitted there is a gap in the system.”

“So our estimate of the total [number of residents vaccinated] is not accurate,” 1st District Supervisor Das Williams said.

Do-Reynoso said the state soon will hand over vaccine distribution to Blue Shield of California because “the state struggles with efficiency.”

Still, that will essentially put another layer of bureaucracy between the initial allocations coming from the federal government and the ultimate distribution to individual counties.

Regardless, it will take some time before the county reaches the 80% to 85% vaccination rate believed necessary to reach herd immunity, and the county’s health metrics still hold it deep in the purple tier of the state Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

For that reason, Do-Reynoso advised residents to avoid gatherings for Super Bowl Sunday because the county has seen spikes in the number of cases after every holiday.

She said if gatherings are held, they should be limited to three households, held outside and observe mask wearing and social distancing protocols.

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