SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department fears that some people may forget about receiving their flu shots because of the vast amount of focus placed on the coronavirus.
Last year, nine Santa Barbara County residents and over 700 people in California passed away from the flu.
"Getting a flu vaccine is especially important to protect yourself, your family and your community,” public health deputy director Paige Batson said.
With striking similarities in symptoms between the flu and COVID-19, the county health department is promoting the #DontWaitVaccinate campaign this fall.
"Flu vaccination helps save critical medical resources necessary for the care of COVID-19 patients,” Batson said.
To avoid a possible twin pandemic, the county will offer free drive-through flu vaccination clinics at San Marcos High School and Allan Hancock College in October.
"A bad flu season, combined with COVID-19 can put our frontline workers and our community at higher risk of illness,” Batson said.
Santa Barbara County also remained stuck in the purple tier for the second consecutive week.
"Unfortunately we are still in the state's purple tier because our case rate continues to stubbornly plateau,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said. “Just above the threshold to move into the lower red tier.”
The county’s average daily case rate was around 42 cases during the last tier review period.
"This means that there was an increase of above six new cases per day from the previous rating period,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso explained.
The daily average needs to fall below 31 cases in order for the county to move into the less restrictive red tier.
This would allow multiple businesses to reopen indoor operations — fitness facilities, movie theaters, restaurants — and allow for all pre-K through 12th grade schools to resume in-person instruction.
With this in mind, there’s been an increase in activity at the county’s three state-run COVID-19 testing sites.
"Really making sure that people who are symptomatic get tested,” Do-Reynoso concluded. “Also people who are asymptomatic but may have been exposed and not know it, get tested.”
To emphasize the importance of flu shots, both Do-Reynoso and Hart received their vaccinations after this evening’s COVID-19 press conference.
The state-run testing sites are located at the following three locations:
- Goleta: Goleta Valley Community Center - 5679 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117
- Buellton: American Medical Response (AMR) Central Training Center - 240 E. Hwy 246, Suite 110, Buellton, CA, 93427
- Santa Maria: Santa Maria Fairpark - 937 Thornburg Street, Santa Maria, CA, 93458
More information can be found on the county's website publichealthsbc.org.