SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - People 65 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Barbara County starting Tuesday, February 16.
Santa Barbara County Public health experts put that population at more than 40,000 residents.
Those eligible must live in the county to make an appointment. You can do that a number of ways either through your health care provider, pharmacies and hospitals, once vaccines become available to them. Getting an appointment at Public Health vaccination sites won't be an option for awhile.
Keep in mind, COVID-19 vaccine supplies are limited. However, health experts said those getting their first dose will be assured of getting their second.
"We ask that until vaccine supply increases, the community allow those at greatest risk for exposure and serious health outcomes, to make their vaccine appointments first," said Van Do-Reynoso, Director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. "The entire community will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and work toward the community as a whole being safe from the risks of the virus."
If slots book up before you are able to register, know that more appointments will open up in the coming weeks.
Santa Barbara County Public Health revealed that nearly 6,000 doses of vaccine are expected to arrive next week. The majority of those are earmarked for second doses. Approximately 11,000 second doses will be administered in the next two weeks.
"We are excited to open appointments to vulnerable community members to have their first access to the vaccine" said Do-Reynoso. "We are continuing to make progress in vaccine administration based on the maximum allocation Santa Barbara County is able to request from the state."
These next few weeks will be a time of transition for vaccine distribution as the County awaits further clarification from the State about the move to a Third-Party Administrator (TPA). There will be local changes in the way vaccine is administered and more information will be shared as it is known.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccine and countywide availability, please visit www.publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/ or call 2-1-1 and press "4" for assistance.
County Health states that the Call Center number is experiencing a high call volume and long wait times.
The County Call Center is available 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.