Skip to Content

Federal funds give outreach efforts a shot in the arm in the effort against viruses

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Central Coast health leaders on several levels are collaborating in their prevention efforts  to slow many active viruses.

Rep. Salud Carbajal  (D-Santa Barbara)  gathered medical officials together today at the Santa Barbara County Health Care building near Goleta.

"I know that the flu has been incredibly challenging to our public health department this year," said Carbajal.

He says the Department of Health and Human services budget has $1.6 million dollars in local federal grants to do outreach and make more shots available.

The funds will go to Santa Barbara County Public Health, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast and American Indian and Health Services.

The timing, especially with active virus strains and the holidays, is urgent.

"Less than 20 percent of eligible Santa Barbara County residents have received their bivalent  booster to cover new strains of Covid 19. That's compared to 70 percent who got their initial vaccination," said Carbajal.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Noemi Doohan said the across the board collaboration is a solid approach

"This public health primary care integration is even more urgent now in a setting of the current surge our communities are experiencing with  influenza  and RSV, the respiratory  syncytial  virus, joining Covid 19."

Prevention now will prevent our hospitals from having a surge of patients which we have seen before.

Dr. Ali Javanbakht at American Indian Health Services says  "as fewer people get seriously ill with these diseases fewer people end up in the hospital  or need hospital resources which allows us then to take care of others who are  in need."

Even with our experience so far with the pandemic,  there are still no clear ways around the risks.

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics Director Dr. Susan Lawton says, "infectious disease does not care what you do to protect your health.  Very healthy people have died of Covid. Very young people have died from Covid.  Very vulnerable people with medical problems  have lived through Covid."  

The financial boost for the latest round of shots will go to multiple clinics that may be behind on keeping up with the need.

Carbajal said, "but new variants means we need new vaccines and unfortunately we are lagging at getting the new boosters out  at the same rate as our initial ones."
 Medical officials across the board are also stepping up their community outreach to groups that may not be aware of the new and growing  virus concerns now as we head into the holiday season.

For those leaving for the holidays or spending time with multiple people outside of their family, the recommendations we heard during the Covid crisis are all upfront again. That includes a recommendation to wear a mask in a crowded area, get yourself fully boosted, stay away from others or stay home from work if you feel sick and take a test if you have Covid symptoms.

The funding grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced by Carbajal were approved in the budget earlier this year. They break down is this order:

  • $1,041,493 for Community Health Centers of the Central Coast
  • $265,765 for the County of Santa Barbara
  • $214,258 for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics
  • $112,702 American Indian Health & Services

For those leaving for the holidays or spending time with multiple people outside of their family, the recommendations we heard during the Covid crisis are all upfront again. That includes a recommendation to wear a mask in a crowded area, get yourself fully boosted, stay away from others or stay home from work if you feel sick and take a test if you have Covid symptoms.

Article Topic Follows: News
Author Profile Photo

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content