Santa Barbara County’s infrastructure for vaccinating people against COVID-19 is capable of tripling the number of doses currently being administered if production could be ramped up to meet demand, the county’s public health officer told the Board of Supervisors.
While some supervisors said the vaccination process is running smoothly and the public is satisfied with its operation, getting an appointment to be inoculated is expected to become easier when a new system goes online near the end of the month, officials said.
As part of a report to the board on the status of COVID-19 in the county, Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso said a total of 11,420 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were distributed March 11.
That included 6,680 that went to Marian Regional Medical Center and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and 4,400 divided up among Public Health Department’s community vaccination clinics, pharmacies, and Sansum Medical Clinic and Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.
In addition, she said, another 2,340 second doses were sent to Lompoc Valley Medical Center to administer as first doses.
Last week, 24% of the county’s allocation, or 2,740 doses, were directed toward agricultural workers through a Public Health Department clinic at Hancock College and at Marian Regional Medical Center.
Do-Reynoso noted that the state has asked counties to set aside 40% of their vaccine allotments for people in the lowest quartile of the Health Equity Metric, that is, people who are likely to be the least healthy and have the least access to medical care due to their economic positions.
She said Santa Barbara County has three of the 400 ZIP codes the state has identified as being in that lowest quartile — 93254 in Cuyama, 93434 in Guadalupe and 93458 in Santa Maria.
Board Chairman and 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson asked about President Joe Biden’s claim that vaccine would be provided for every adult by the end of May and how the county’s vaccination ability might be come April 1.
“It’s all about production, and the more vaccine we get the better,” responded Dr. Henning Ansorg, county public health officer. “I feel quite optimistic at this point, just seeing what is happening, and we have the infrastructure in place.
“Even when Blue Shield comes into effect as our distributor, we will continue with our current infrastructure that has proven very efficient,” Ansorg said. “We can double our efforts very easily, maybe triple, with the current infrastructure. And I think Santa Barbara County, come the end of May, will be in a very good position — that’s my prediction.”
When 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann asked about the launch of the MyTurn program for making vaccine appointments, Do-Reynoso said health care providers like Cottage and Sansum as well as pharmacies have been on the system for one to two weeks.
Right now, the County Public Health Department is in the middle of being brought onboard.
“At the end of the month, all jurisdictions will be using MyTurn,” Do-Reynoso said.