Quick Take:

After a rough start, vaccine distribution in Santa Cruz County has sped up, with more than 50% of all older adults in the county having received at least one dose. With this milestone reached, the county is now expanding vaccine eligibility to certain high-risk occupational groups.

Santa Cruz County health officials announced Monday that they will expand access to county vaccine allotments to include workers in the education, child care, emergency services, and food and agriculture industries. Until now, the county had been prioritizing frontline health care workers and those 65 and older.

Vaccine Watch

Lookout’s Vaccine Watch, the latest on vaccine distribution countywide, is among eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of the pandemic. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here, and leave feedback and ask questions at the end of this story.

This change comes as a new milestone is reached: 50% of Santa Cruz County residents between the ages of 65-74 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The County Public Health Division will begin occupational vaccination efforts by “working directly with eligible employers to arrange workforce vaccination clinics,” according to an announcement released Monday.

The announcement marks another step forward in the vaccination process. Farmworkers, teachers and others in certain professions already had begun being vaccinated under arrangements made with major health systems, with the bulk of those being coordinated with Dignity/Dominican. Those allotments are separate from the county’s allotment of vaccines.

To qualify for county vaccines, employers can begin the process by filling out the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Survey embedded at the bottom of this article. Meanwhile, as the county expands vaccine eligibility, it’s urging older residents to make appointments and get the vaccine as soon as they can. Find a list of places offering vaccines here.

Vaccination progress so far

The progress of vaccination among different age groups in Santa Cruz County
The progress of vaccination among different age groups in Santa Cruz County Credit: Dr. David Ghilarducci, Santa Cruz County Health Agency

As of Monday, 67,893 doses of the vaccine had been administered to Santa Cruz County residents, according to a state dashboard. Preliminary data shared with Lookout by deputy health officer Dr. David Ghilarducci shows that approximately 50% of the 75 and older population has received both doses.

The county average of those fully vaccinated remains below 20%.

Data from Dr. Ghilarducci showing the percentage of people who have received a second vaccine dose.
Data from Dr. Ghilarducci showing the percentage of people among different age groups who have received a second vaccine dose. Credit: Dr. David Ghilarducci, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency

In the statewide context, Santa Cruz County is doing extremely well. The county announced Monday that it ranks seventh among the 58 counties in California for the number of vaccines administered per capita. It also ranks second in the state among counties with a population of more than 250,000 residents.

Locally, the most vaccines have been distributed by Sutter/PAMF, probably in proportion to its large patient base.

Kaiser Permanente released a statement over the weekend saying that it had been receiving a “disproportionately small share of vaccine, relative to the portion of the population our members represent,” but were expecting to broaden availability to all those 65 and older as soon as allotment issues are worked out.

For employers: COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Survey

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Follow Mallory Pickett on: Twitter. Mallory brings deep expertise in environmental issues to Lookout, as well as national reporting experience that she will now apply in her hometown of Santa Cruz. She...