‘It doesn’t feel right not to’: MAH clinic gives Santa Cruz another shot at getting vaxed up
Friday’s downtown COVID vaccination pop-up was another step in pursuit of herd immunity. And while masks are making a comeback, “I don’t see closures as part of our future at all,” county health officer Gail Newel said. “That’s not going to be well tolerated. And wouldn’t be helpful.”
For Melaine Myers, it was about time for her first dose.
The 42-year-old Bonny Doon native was one of a few dozen Santa Cruzans who stopped in at the pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History on Friday afternoon.
“I kind of just warmed up to it. I was hesitant at first,” she said. “Now things are changing. People are having things indoors and it doesn’t feel right not to [have the vaccine].”
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The pop-up is part of the “Vax Up Santa Cruz!” initiative from Santa Cruz County Public Health, an outreach program with weekly stops throughout the county, including a similar clinic in Watsonville later Friday.
“Couldn’t be happier with the turnout,” Santa Cruz County health officer Gail Newel said.
During a news conference Thursday, Newel urged unvaccinated county residents to get the vaccine and recommended all persons begin wearing masks again indoors and at crowded outdoor events, regardless of vaccination status.
Upcoming pop-up vaccination clinics in Santa Cruz County
- Sunday: Las Lomas Resource Fair Clinic, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 29 Willow Rd., Watsonville
- Friday, July 30: Watsonville Farmer’s Market, 2:30-6:30 p.m., Watsonville
- Saturday, July 31: Boulder Creek Pop-up Clinic, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 13233 Highway 9, Boulder Creek
- Saturday, July 31: Barrios Unidos Pop-up Clinic, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 1817 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz
- Friday, Aug. 6: Watsonville Farmer’s Market, 2:30-6:30 p.m., Watsonville
- Saturday, Aug. 7: Boulder Creek Pop-up Clinic, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 13233 Highway 9, Boulder Creek
- Saturday, Aug. 7: El Pajaro Community Development Corp Clinic, Plaza Vigil, 24 E. Beach St., No. 209, Watsonville
- Wednesday, Aug. 11: Watsonville YMCA, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Watsonville
- Friday, Aug. 13: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, noon-4 p.m., Santa Cruz
- Friday, Aug. 13: Watsonville Farmer’s Market, 2:30-6:30 p.m., Watsonville
Friday’s downtown clinic — where 31 doses were administered within the first hour — was another opportunity to reiterate some of those same points.
“The ultimate goal is to get something close to herd immunity,” Newel said. Currently, almost 57% of the total county population — a total that includes children under 12, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine — has been fully vaccinated, according to Santa Cruz County Health data. Newel said the target is to see 70% to 80% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
“We want to protect the most vulnerable in the community,” she said.
Friday’s event downtown came on the same day that three Bay Area counties — next-door Santa Clara, plus San Francisco and Contra Costa counties — urged employers to require that their employees get vaccinated.
At the moment, Santa Cruz County has not implemented any such mandate.
“We feel very much the same way,” she said. “We want community employees to step up. At this time, we’re not requiring vaccination of employees.”
Newel added that she expects such mandates will become easier for businesses once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are currently in use under an emergency authorization.
She also expects the state of California “will also be more assertive with guidelines.”
As of Friday, only 11 cases of the highly contagious Delta variant had been documented in Santa Cruz County. Newel said officials are monitoring the situation but her department does not have any plans for further shutdowns.
“I don’t see closures as part of our future at all,” she said. “That’s not going to be well tolerated. And wouldn’t be helpful.”
Newel said closures would be unfair to businesses at this stage — in effect penalizing them based on a minority of the population that has continued to refrain from getting the vaccination.
As concerns over the Delta variant rise, the pressure to ensure mask-wearing has been a point of contention for some businesses, with the enforcement falling on them. When asked how businesses should handle self-policing both employees and patrons, Newell acknowledged some of the frustration owners might have and urged them to continue pushing employees to get vaccinations.
The free clinic will return to the MAH in two weeks, on Friday, Aug. 13, from noon-4 p.m. For more on upcoming Santa Cruz County Health pop-up clinics, click here.