Santa Cruz County Health Services Director Mimi Hall during Wednesday's press conference.
(Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency)
Vaccine Watch

‘Try all the methods’: Everything county health leadership is saying about vaccines

Santa Cruz County health officials gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and how local vaccine supply is looking ahead of Thursday’s big eligibility expansion to all Californians 16 and over.

Santa Cruz County health officials convened for a press conference today for a COVID-19 update in advance of vaccine eligibility expanding on Thursday. The officials remained positive about local infection rates, which remain low, and vaccination progress, but cautioned that demand is certain to exceed supply when vaccine eligibility opens to all adults on Thursday.

Health services director Mimi Hall said they “are prepared for [expanding eligibility] across all of our providers,” but emphasized that “eligibility doesn’t necessarily mean access.”

Here’s what we learned:

Finding an appointment:

  • Hall acknowledged that the scheduling functions on the state’s MyTurn vaccine availability website aren’t perfect. Her advice to people between the ages of 16-49 looking for appointments: “Try all the methods,” to find one, don’t rely solely on MyTurn.

Here’s a breakdown of all the places a person might go to get vaccinated in Santa Cruz County now that eligibility is...

  • Scheduling for county vaccine clinics won’t open up to people between the ages of 16-49 until Thursday; appointments can’t be pre-scheduled for after the 15th.
  • Health officials will offer targeted clinics for eligible students in Santa Cruz County, in partnership with Dominican and the County Office of Education. The schedule for this isn’t finalized, and students/parents will be notified of appointment availability.

Vaccine supply and vaccination progress towards herd immunity

  • Deputy health officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said that models currently predict Santa Cruz County will achieve some form of herd immunity —enough immunity from previous infection and vaccination to significantly impede the spread of the virus — by mid-June.
  • Hall said they are seeing a “steady increase” in vaccine supply to the county, but under the state’s new agreement with Blue Shield, more of that supply is going to local providers, and less is going to the local health jurisdiction for redistribution.
  • Hall and Ghilarducci said that equity efforts have been paying off and pointed to a few specific achievements — the Zip Code that has received the most vaccines in the county is located in Watsonville, and the county has given vaccines to 5,000 of the 7,000 farmworkers who live in Santa Cruz County year-round.

The Johnson & Johnson side effects and pause

  • Ghilarducci said that the reported blood clots associated with six patients who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are rare but very serious, and appear to be similar to rare blood clotting episodes that may be caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    “The epidemiological data coming out of Europe seems to suggest that the benefit of the AstraZeneca vaccine, at least for older age groups, far outweighs this small potential risk,” Ghilarducci said. “I think we may see the same thing with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”