COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives as Cases Continue to Increase
By edhat staff
The Public Health Department (PHD) announced the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Santa Barbara County as daily case counts continue to rise.
Local hospital health care workers will be the first to receive the vaccine with employees at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria being the first.
Due to limited supplies, Santa Barbara County has a local plan which includes a phased approach to distribute the vaccine over the weeks and months ahead, according to PHD.
Following the vaccination of hospital staff will be long-term care facility residents and staff and then first responders in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system and dialysis providers. The initial 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived with 1,950 doses going to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and 1,950 doses going to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.
“We have spoken of the light at the end of this tunnel and it has finally arrived in Santa Barbara County,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Health Officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. “This vaccine is our most important tool for ending the COVID-19 pandemic in our county. While the light at the end of the tunnel has arrived, we are very much still in the tunnel, as we’ve heard State officials share. We need every community member to continue wearing a mask, staying home as much as possible, and for those that have tested positive, please isolate immediately.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that has arrived will work to reduce the risk of contracting the virus and improve our natural defenses through increasing our antibodies to fight the virus. With two doses given three weeks apart, this vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in the recipient of the vaccine. The phased distribution of the vaccine will begin with those at highest risk of contracting the virus, PHD stated in a press release.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Officials have been preparing to see a spike in positive cases in the two weeks following the Thanksgiving Holiday. As a result of those who chose to gather with others outside of their immediate household, despite stated health guidance, the impact has been some of the highest daily case counts seen to date.
“The arrival of the vaccine could not come at a more critical time for our county,” said Dr. Ansorg. “We have been working for months to prepare for a local distribution plan and will begin with those with the highest risk of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19.”
As more supply becomes available, the county will progress in the phased distribution of the most powerful tool we have against COVID-19, increasing the opportunity for more people in our community to get vaccinated. The general public will have a chance to be vaccinated in Spring 2021. This timeline will be updated as more is known.
Current COVID-19 Numbers
There were three deaths reported on Wednesday. The individuals resided in the City of Santa Maria, City of Goleta and the Federal Prison in Lompoc. All 3 individuals had underlying medical conditions and were associated with a congregate living facility. Two individuals were over 70 years of age and one individual was between the ages of 18-29 years old.
The death from the Federal Prison in Lompoc is not associated with a current outbreak at the correctional institution. The delay is a result of the death reporting process requiring coroner verification.
There has now been a total of 145 deaths within Santa Barbara County.
On Wednesday there were 196 new cases reported and 234 on Thursday.
The total case count is now 14,190 with 1,120 still infectious in the region. Of those, there are 91 hospitalizations including 23 in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Santa Barbara County's ICU availability is 29.10% while the entire Southern California Region is at 0.00%.
More data is available at publichealthsbc.org.