COVID Dashboard: Jabs officially available for children 5 and under

A man receives a COVID booster shot at a drive through clinic
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
An graphic image for the Lookout COVID Dashboard

News of the week

Parents looking to vaccinate their young children can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

This week, children younger than 5 officially became eligible for COVID-19 immunizations after over two years of waiting. It is the final age group to become eligible.

Santa Cruz County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Cal Gordon is pleased with the approval.

“I think this is a major milestone. We’re almost two and a half years into this pandemic and finally, our last cohort can be vaccinated,” he told Lookout late last week.

The rollout for this age group is slightly different than that for previous cohorts. No pharmacies are authorized to provide the vaccine for individuals under age 3, and each pharmacy chain may have different regulations for providing jabs to children under 5.

Primary care providers will be the best place to receive the shot for this age group. If you do not have a primary care provider, clinics will also be administering vaccines.

Read Hillary Ojeda’s story for more information and resources.

As for the data, cases ticked up in Santa Cruz County again this week, going from 1,705 to 2,002 — an increase of 297. One death was recorded in the last week, raising the pandemic total to 265.

Cases remain high across the entire state, but this surge has been different. Hospitals have seen far fewer admissions, and deaths remained largely low and stable throughout the entire wave.

Santa Cruz County’s three test-to-treat locations are still up and running. Click here to find the closest location. Currently, Paxlovid is the available medication, showing a 89% reduction in hospitalization and death, and it must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms to be effective.

Vaccinations and precautions are still strongly recommended.

The easiest way to schedule an appointment for second boosters is at local pharmacies including Rite-Aid, CVS and Walgreens.

Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are still administering second boosters to eligible recipients.

Check our links below for quick access to the relevant websites.

Masking rules

Neither the state of California nor Santa Cruz County currently requires indoor masking. For county public schools, as of March 11, masks are optional though highly recommended.

As of April 10, masks are not required for most indoor settings at UC Santa Cruz facilities, though highly recommended. Masks will still be required for on-campus public transportation, in the Early Education Services centers, and in clinical settings.

On April 19, Santa Cruz Metro lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated passengers, following a federal judge’s ruling that mask mandates are not required on public transportation.

The latest numbers

How does Santa Cruz compare to California and the U.S. in vaccinations? Where are the most current COVID cases in the county, and how does that compare to population? Here is the most recent data.

As of Monday, there were 2,002 active cases logged by the county. This does not include unreported rapid tests taken at home, so this number is not exact.

Two new deaths were reported in the past week, raising the pandemic total to 265.

14-day average; data as of May 17.
(Via Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency)

Where can I find a vaccine?

At this point, vaccines are widely available across the county. They are free for everyone, whether insured or not.

As of March 31, second booster shots are available to people aged 50 and older as well as people 12 and older who are immunocompromised or who have received Johnson & Johnson as their primary series and booster doses.

Rite-Aid, CVS, Horsnyder Pharmacy, Westside Pharmacy and Walgreens are currently offering second boosters.

Those wanting to get the shot through their primary care provider should check the company’s website, as availability may vary.

Health care providers

You can schedule appointments for initial doses and booster shots. Below are the local health care providers that offer the vaccine.

Kaiser Permanente
866-454-8855
Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation
844-987-6115
Dignity Health
831-288-6526
CruzMedMo
831-241-7501
Emeline Health Center
831-454-4100

Drugstores and supermarkets

Most pharmacies in the county have COVID-19 vaccines appointments available well into the future. Click the pharmacy of your choice to schedule an appointment.

Safeway
Rite-Aid
CVS
Walgreens
Costco
Horsnyder Pharmacy & Medical Supply
Westside Pharmacy

Getting tested

The sites below offer free PCR tests via LHI.care. Turnaround is typically three to five days.

Mountain Community Resources
6134 Hwy. 9, Felton
Depot Freight Building
119 Center St., Santa Cruz
Watsonville Testing Site
500 Westridge Dr., Watsonville

The table below lists additional testing resources in Santa Cruz County. However, almost all require appointments.