Vaccine update: Rates, where to find a COVID shot or test; wait, cost and turnaround times
As of Tuesday, 70% of Santa Cruz County residents were fully vaccinated, a slight increase from the week prior. Though slightly higher than the statewide figure of 66%, Santa Cruz has one of the lowest rates in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Neighboring Santa Clara and San Mateo counties had a fully vaccinated rate of 80.2% and 78.4%, respectively. Marin County was at 82%, the highest rate in the state.
Vaccines, boosters & wait times
The information below is accurate as of Tuesday, but availability and wait times can change quickly.
Though almost all of providers below also offer vaccines for younger children, the supply for children between 5 and 11 is more limited and the wait time could be longer. Regardless of what type of insurance you have — or if you have any insurance at all — vaccines and boosters are free of charge.
In addition to those listed, additional options are available via MyTurn.ca.gov.
COVID 2021 COVERAGE
With the discovery of the Omicron variant and the possibility of increased infections locally, Lookout is keeping an eye on Santa Cruz County impacts as well as regional and national news.
If you’d like us to track additional providers or other information, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe!
Health care providers
Typically, appointments made through health care providers for the initial two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have a shorter wait time than booster shots.
If you are looking to schedule a booster shot, see the pharmacies listed below if your health care provider has limited availability.
You do not need to be a member to receive a vaccine or booster, which are offered to those 5 and older. However, if you’re not a member, you have to sign up for a Kaiser medical record number before making an appointment. This usually takes about 24 hours.
Vaccines are offered at facilities in Scotts Valley, Watsonville and San Jose. The current wait time is about two weeks.
Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Non-members will have to register to get a vaccine or booster, but do not need to be patients. This can be done either by phone or online. Wait times are typically about two weeks.
Only members of Dignity can schedule vaccine or booster appointments. Most locations in Santa Cruz County offer shots once or twice a week, but by appointment only. Specific wait times were not available.
115 S. Morrissey Ave., Santa Cruz
CruzMedMo offers only walk-ins for vaccines and boosters, typically on Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. However, no appointments are available this coming Friday, and the next walk-in day is scheduled for Wednesday.
Emeline Health Center
1080 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz
The Emeline Health Center offers free vaccines for all members of the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. Appointments are usually available within the week of request. Call the number above to schedule.
Drugstores and supermarkets
Each of the drugstores and supermarkets below requires medical and contact information to get an appointment, but receiving a vaccine or booster is free. Dates listed are the earliest available appointments.
2203 Mission St., Santa Cruz — Jan. 10-31
117 Morrissey Blvd., Santa Cruz — Jan. 6-31
2720 41st Ave., Soquel — Jan. 6-31
16 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos — Jan. 6-31
901 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz — Dec. 27-30, Jan. 3-31, Feb. 1-12
1475 41st Ave., Capitola — Jan. 3-31, Feb. 1-12
80 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos — Jan. 3-31, Feb. 1-12
6123 Hwy. 9, Felton — Jan. 3-31, Feb. 1-12
1988 Freedom Blvd., Freedom — Dec. 24, 25, 31, Jan. 1-31, Feb. 1-12
No current availability in Santa Cruz County
1125 Branham Ln., San Jose — Dec. 16
1718 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz — Dec. 23, 24, 26-28
210 Mount Hermon Rd., Scotts Valley — Dec. 26-28
1810 Freedom Blvd., Freedom — Dec. 24, 26-28
220 Sylvania Ave., Santa Cruz — Dec. 20, 23, 27
For those anticipating international travel, most airlines and countries accept antigen, NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) or RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests. However, how soon the test results must be available prior to the flight can vary by airline and destination. Double-check that your test will be accepted within the required time frame, particularly if you have a lengthy flight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes viral tests — ones that can determine a current infection — in this way:
“Viral tests use samples that come from your nose or mouth. Rapid tests can be performed in minutes and can include antigen and some NAATs. Laboratory tests can take days to complete and include RT-PCR and other types of NAATs. Some test results may need confirmatory testing.”
Antigen tests are considered the least accurate viral test, while RT-PCRs are the most accurate, with the latter having few, if any, false positives.
Another type of test is an antibody test, defined by the CDC as:
“An antibody test (also known as a serology test) can detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes to help fight infection and protect you from getting sick in the future. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection, but may indicate if you had a past infection.”
Except for CruzMedMo, each of the below testing sites does not require out-of-pocket payment for the tests, though your insurance could be charged. CruzMedMo costs between $80 — for an antigen test — and $225 — for a PCR test. No appointments are necessary and the company says results are ready within an hour.
Additionally, Lightspeed Testing offers testing at the following locations and times. Appointments are not necessary, are free of charge and results from the antigen test are available within 30 minutes.
- Santa Cruz Farmers Market — Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Westside Farmers Market — Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Moe’s Alley — Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The three sites below offer free PCR tests via LHI.Care. Turnaround is between three and five days.
- Mountain Community Resources
6134 Hwy. 9, Felton
- Depot Freight Building
119 Center St., Santa Cruz
- Ramsey Park Family Center
1301 Main St., Watsonville
In addition, many local drugstores offer at-home tests, which cost on average $25. Though these tests are quick and generally accurate, they are not accepted for travel purposes or by most facilities requiring a recent negative test.
Finally, the table below lists additional testing resources in Santa Cruz County. Be sure to call ahead, however, as almost all require appointments.