Highway 9 in Felton.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As fears of the Delta variant grow in the San Lorenzo Valley, are vaccine numbers keeping pace?

Vaccination rates in the upper parts of the San Lorenzo Valley, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek in particular, “are about 10% lower than the rest of the county,” Santa Cruz County spokesperson Jason Hoppin said.

With an increasing number of COVID-19 outbreaks reported within Santa Cruz County, specifically in the San Lorenzo Valley, it’s worth a check-in on vaccination progress.

Vaccination rates in the upper parts of the San Lorenzo Valley “are about 10% lower than the rest of the county,” Santa Cruz County spokesperson Jason Hoppin said Friday.

According to county data, the total number of the eligible population vaccinated in Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond are 64.9% and 63.6%, respectively. That’s a marginal increase from the two towns’ vaccination rates in June, which were at 61.5% and 62.2%.

In comparison, the 95018 zip code, primarily the Felton area, is at 84.6%. The 95060 zip code, which includes portions of Bonny Doon, the UC Santa Cruz campus and the Westside is at 72.7%. The 95010 zip code, which is mainly Capitola, is over 90%.

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“They do tend to be lower in the valley for sure,” Hoppin said regarding vaccination rates.

During a news conference earlier this month, county health officer Gail Newel urged all eligible residents to get vaccinated and acknowledged the goal for herd immunity would be closer to 70% to 80% county-wide.

According to county data, which totals the entire population rather than segmenting out the 100,000-plus who are under 12 and not eligible, 56.8% of the county is fully vaccinated.

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As of Friday, only 14 cases of the Delta variant have been reported throughout the county, Hoppin said. None of those cases has been fatal. Though there has been a slight increase in hospitalizations among unvaccinated persons, the majority of those hospitalizations are elderly patients, Hoppin said.

Hoppin said the total number of Delta variant cases could be higher than reported because the county is not actively testing for the variant due to the high cost. Probing for the Delta variant requires a genetic test.

COVID tests will detect positive cases, but might not be able to detect the variant. Variant cases or not, there isn’t a deviation in the county’s plan for mitigation, he said.

At this stage, the county will continue recommending all unvaccinated persons wear masks and get vaccinated. The county is hosting several pop-up clinics, including one in Boulder Creek on Saturday, over the upcoming weeks.

“It’s sort of renewed interest in vaccines. So that’s one good thing to come out of it,” Hoppin said.

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