SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Santa Barbara County Public Health announced that they will open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those 65 and older starting Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Up until this point, vaccines could only be distributed to essential workers and those 75 and older.
“Challenges with the vaccine rollout had caused anxiety and frustration for many residents,” public health officer Henning Ansorg said.
The announcement was made during the county’s weekly coronavirus news briefing on Zoom.
With an average of 6,000 doses arriving each week, Santa Barbara County still isn’t able to start vaccinating separate sector populations.
“Even though we are moving to the 65-plus,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said. “We are still very limited in the number of vaccines that we get as a county.”
“These difficult first two months could have been adverted if the government had indeed secured and shipped the number of doses they had promised,” Ansorg added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci also announced Friday that he expects the general public to have access to COVID-19 vaccines by sometime in April, with most Americans inoculated by the middle or end of summer.
“I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call for, you know, for better wording, open season,” Fauci said. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”
Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies currently with authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the US, have also both begun trials for children, starting with older age groups.
In addition to the update, one more COVID-related death was reported along with 87 new cases. This brings the countywide death toll to 367.
Public health said the individual who died was over the age of 70 and had underlying health conditions.
They reportedly lived in the City of Santa Maria.
The county said a death is considered to be coronavirus-related when the health department receives a death certificate that lists COVID-19 as the cause of death or a significant contributing factor in the death. The process can sometimes take several weeks to verify.
There are currently also 139 people hospitalized, 28 of whom are in the ICU.
With the federal government ramping up production, those with underlying health conditions between the ages of 16 to 64 will also be eligible to receive vaccinations by mid-March.
“In five weeks, we will be in that space where everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” Do-Reynoso concluded.
For a complete breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County, click here.