As the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department prepares to open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to educators, agriculture and food workers, and emergency personnel, officials are working with community partners to carve out equitable distribution opportunities.
According to county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, the department is currently coordinating vaccine clinics for high-risk populations including farmworkers, elderly residents in low-income areas, and those living in high-density housing.
"We do acknowledge that there are community members who do not have access to computers, and who have language barriers and … cultural barriers in understanding what vaccines are all about," Do-Reynoso said during a virtual town hall Thursday.
Thus far, Latinx, Indigenous and other racial groups in the county have been vaccinated about half as much as White residents, according to vaccine demographic data.
The disparity is partially due to the majority-White demographics of the health care workforce and the 65-and-older age group, who have received nearly all the vaccines so far, officials said.
One of the upcoming equity opportunities will be a vaccine pilot program on Sunday, where over 500 farmworkers will receive their first dose of the vaccine in Santa Maria with the help of translators and organizers.
To prepare for these and future outreach efforts, organizers and promotoras with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) were also able to be vaccinated on Friday.
In addition, the department will offer an equity clinic in partnership with Albertsons for Lompoc residents in the coming weeks, Do-Reynoso said, with a similar clinic for Santa Maria and Guadalupe residents held earlier in the month.
To facilitate the safe reopening of schools, the county will set aside 1,000 vaccine appointments specifically for educators, to be administered late next week, Do-Reynoso said.
"Our first priority will be teachers and staff working with medically fragile students," she said, adding that the county Office of Education and school district officials will help with identifying eligible individuals.
Under state guidelines, counties must allocate 30% of their delivered vaccines to teachers, agriculture and food workers, and emergency personnel beginning March 1, with the remaining 70% offered to those 65 and older.
Appointments for those in Phase 1B will be available on Monday. Appointment information can be viewed online at publichealthsbc.org/vaccine, or by calling the county hotline at 211.
Daily COVID-19 cases
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 104 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths from the illness on Friday.
In total, 31,867 cases have been confirmed in the county, with 382 cases still active and contagious, according to county public health data.
The new reported deaths were of two individuals over the age of 70, one of whom lived in Santa Barbara and another in Lompoc, according to county data.
COVID-19 deaths confirmed in the county now total 409.
As of Friday, 76 individuals are hospitalized for COVID-19, including 18 individuals in the intensive care unit, according to county data.
In Santa Maria, 113 out of 10,743 total cases remain active and 147 individuals have died.
In Orcutt, 20 out of 1,680 total cases remain active and 25 individuals have died.
In Lompoc, 46 out of 3,333 total cases remain active and 43 individuals have died.
In the Santa Ynez Valley are of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 11 out of 943 total cases remain active and 17 individuals have died.
In the North County area of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, eight out of 1,228 total cases remain active and 20 individuals have died.
In neighboring San Luis Obispo County, public health officials reported 31 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 19,643 cases confirmed thus far. Of this total, 601 cases remain active, according to county public health data.
In this Series
Weekend recap: New plans at Santa Maria Fairpark, coronavirus vaccine distribution, Rancho Laguna pays $30K to farmworkers, Los Alamos veteran's birthday parade and more
- 27 updates
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