Quick Take:

With the Delta variant sparking a COVID-19 surge that’s expected to continue through August, just under 60% of Santa Cruz County’s total population is fully vaccinated. Here’s how to add yourself or someone in need of a vaccine to that number.

As COVID-19 case counts statewide continue to rise with the more contagious Delta variant, Santa Cruz County health officials have made it clear: The best protection against serious infection, hospitalization or death from coronavirus is to get vaccinated.

County health officer Gail Newel joined Supervisor Zach Friend on Friday for a virtual town hall to emphasize that fact, as the county has seen a nearly 158% increase in 14-day average case counts.

“This upward climb has exceeded last summer’s surge, but we don’t expect it to get anywhere near the winter surge,” Newel said. “We are expecting case rate and hospitalizations to sharply rise through the month of August.”

According to county data, 59.53% of the entire county population was fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, with at least 67.24% partially vaccinated. That population figure includes children under 12, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

To help get those numbers up, the county encourages those in search of vaccines to check out the following resources and clinics.

Credit: Via Pixabay

Start at the source: Santa Cruz Health

Newel and her team have led the charge in keeping Santa Cruzans up to date on where they can find a vaccine. While masking and physical distancing are still important, more widespread vaccination throughout Santa Cruz is what the team is focusing on.

“That’s what’s really going to save lives,” Newel said.

On the Santa Cruz Health website, health officials provide tools for understanding more about eligibility, setting up vaccine appointments, and numbers to call for additional information.

Important additions: The rideshare app Lyft is also offering free transportation to all vaccine appointments. For homebound community members, there is a survey to complete to help health services both in planning and to connect with forthcoming vaccination efforts.

Head to a pop-up vaccine clinic

Both the county and local business owners have held occasional vaccine pop-ups over the past few months, including one at the Museum of Art & History and at Greater Purpose Brewing Company.

Upcoming vaccine pop-ups include:

  • Friday: Watsonville Farmers Market walk-in clinic at Peck and Main streets, 2:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: Boulder Creek pop-up clinic at 13233 Highway 9, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Saturday: Barrios Unidos pop-up clinic at 1817 Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Visit the pop-up calendar for more information on when and where to get a vaccine.

(Near) Lora Bate, EMT, helps set up during a free pop-up vaccination clinic at the Museum of Art & History.
EMT Lora Bate (right) helps set up during a free pop-up vaccination clinic at the Museum of Art & History in downtown Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Call your health care provider

If you have a primary doctor or physician you trust, ask them about potential vaccine opportunities. The four major health care systems in the county all offer vaccines, which can be scheduled via their online portals or via phone.

Here’s more info on what each system offers:

Visit a local health center

There are currently six options countywide, with options available for individuals 12 and older, health care workers, and persons experiencing homelessness.

Here’s phone contact info on each center:

  • OptumServe mass vaccination site: Call 877-218-0381
  • Salud Para La Gente: Call or text VAX to 831-728-0222
  • Santa Cruz Community Health: Call 831-427-3500
  • Emeline Health Center: Call 831-454-4100
  • Watsonville Health Center: Call or text 831-515-9399
  • Homeless Persons Health Project: Call 831-454-2080

Go to a county drugstore

After picking up your drugstore essentials, why not drop by the pharmacy for a Fauci Ouchie? The three drugstore chains in the county — CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid — all offer vaccines at their locations, depending on supply and demand. Visit their websites for more information on how to schedule your appointment or prepare for a walk-in vaccine.

Safeway pharmacies are also offering vaccines on a scheduled basis; visit your local store’s website for more information.

Grace comes to Lookout from just over the hill, originally from Sunnyvale but with a variety of journalism experience from across the country.After doing her undergrad at Seattle University, Grace earned...