Details on the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County became more clear this week — here’s what we’ve learned
Santa Cruz County health officials have produced slides about the rollout using statistics from the California Immunization Registry. Here’s a rundown of what they showed.
Santa Cruz County health leadership held their weekly COVID-19 and vaccine press conference Thursday, and the county’s EMS Director, Dr. David Ghilarducci, gave a vaccine progress report unlike any other to date.
That’s because the county is finally getting many never-before-seen statistics through California Immunization Registry, a database of every person vaccinated in the state.
As of Friday, a state dashboard revealed that 45,582 doses of the vaccine had been distributed to Santa Cruz residents. The county also confirmed that it ranks ninth in the state for most vaccine doses administered per capita and had vaccinated 62% of residents older than 75 and 36% of residents over the age of 65.
Besides the 15,000 essential healthcare workers and others in Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, there are also an estimated 15,000 people in Santa Cruz who are over the age of 75 — and an additional 27,000 people who are between the ages of 65 and 74.
To put that in context, about 118,000 doses of the vaccine would be required to fully inoculate all the people in those groups.
What’s going on with the rollout?
Ghilarducci presented a slide that showed that nearly 35,000 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine in Santa Cruz County but less than 5,000 had received the second.
While the numbers he presented Thursday do not match the data from the state dashboard, he explained that the “data is directly downloaded from the California Immunization Registry and the state is actively working to clean up this data.” He asked that people focus on the general trends he was presenting as opposed to the “mismatch” of numbers.
Another slide shared by Ghilarducci showed that Watsonville Community Hospital and Dominican Hospital, which were among the first to begin vaccine distribution in December, had also administered the most “second doses” of the vaccine compared to all other entities.
Depending on the type of vaccine, officials have to wait three or four weeks to administer the second dose. As a result, the number of people receiving a second dose should increase in the coming weeks.
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“We ensure that we have enough second dose around so that people get their dose as needed when their time comes up,” Ghilarducci said. “If we do have a shortage in supply in a particular week, we may have to cancel first dose clinics in order to prioritize those second doses that are due.”
Not everyone who got the vaccine here is from here
Just over 6,000 doses of the vaccine were given to people who were not Santa Cruz residents, for which Ghilarducci said there were “various reasons.”
“We have to remember that Phase 1a was health care workers and was not targeted to where people live but rather to where they work,” he explained. “So that’s why we would see some numbers. Obviously, there are some folks who live somewhere else but come to Santa Cruz County to get vaccinated.”
A breakdown showed that while most people who received a vaccine dose here were from Santa Cruz County, a small percentage were from counties from around the Bay Area and even Los Angeles County.
Rate of vaccinations on the rise
As the county and the other entities in charge of distributing the vaccine get more doses of the vaccine from the state and federal governments, daily vaccination rates within Santa Cruz County have risen.
“I like the shape of this curve because it shows that we’re getting more and more doses into arms,” Ghilarducci said. “This reflects both increased efficiency in getting doses out the door but also increased supply.”
From the graph, it appears the most doses administered in the county were on Feb. 5, though there were several days in December and a few in January and February when very few vaccine doses were administered.
Racial breakdown of those who have received the vaccine so far
Overwhelmingly, the people who have received the vaccine doses in Santa Cruz County so far have been white. From the slide Ghilarducci presented, more than 31,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered to white people and nearly 8,000 had been administered to those of Latino/Hispanic descent.
However, Ghilarducci explained that this was because in the first months of the vaccine distribution, all providers were focused on inoculating those in Phase 1a and rollout was “not targeted with respect to race or ethnicity, so we’re going to see a disproportionate representation (of race).”
He explained that by filtering out much of the data from the early days of the vaccine distribution, “the trend has much improved for for Hispanic and Latino (groups).”
The Hispanic/Latino communities, especially in Watsonville, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. As of latest data, people of those communities make up about 33% of the county’s overall population but account for nearly 55% of the COVID-19 cases. Similarly, Watsonville accounts for just over 18% of the total county population but its residents account for 52% of all COVID-19 cases in the county.
Who has done the most vaccine distribution?
So far, Sutter/PAMF has been the most prolific in vaccine distribution in the county, providing first doses to more than 6,000 people over the age of 75, nearly 2,500 doses to people over the age of 65 and more than 2,200 people under age 65 who fall under Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout.
On the other hand, Dignity Health, which operates Dominican Hospital, has provided the most doses — nearly 5,000 — to people under the age of 65 including healthcare workers, police officers and first responders and as Lookout has previously reported, educators and school staff and farm workers.
“Dominican Hospital and Watsonville hospital had focused, at least early on, in the Phase 1a,” Ghilarducci said, “so these are going to be younger people that were vaccinated in those groups because they fit into the healthcare worker population.”
Age breakdown of who has gotten the vaccine so far
County health officials have stressed over the past few weeks that inoculation of those over the age of 65 is their utmost priority as they are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
A slide presented by Ghilarducci showed that the age group of people who had received the most doses of the vaccine so far were under the age of 65 — those in Phase 1a.
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Under 65: So far, more than 12,000 people under the age of 65 had received at least one dose of the vaccine and just over 4,200 people had been fully inoculated.
Between 65 and 74: About 5,200 people had received at least one dose and under 400 had received a second dose. More than 25,000 people in this age group are still without a single dose of the vaccine.
Over 75: More than 7,500 people had received the first dose of the vaccine and only 234 received the second dose. Nearly 10,000 people remain without the vaccine in this age group.
Ghilarducci said that before the vaccine rollout is expanded to other tiers and occupational groups, county health leaders would like for at least 50% of the people within the 65-plus age group to get both doses of the vaccine.
Watch the county health leadership’s full press conference below: