Santa Barbara County has expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and appointments are going fast.
With the statewide effort to ramp up vaccine distribution, along with the help of a federal allocation, Santa Barbara County has expanded its eligibility to a new age group. Those 16 years and older can now receive their first dose.
"Those are more toward the end of the week because these appointments were initially filled up already, but as we have no-shows, we are adding people depending on who signs up,” said Michael Camacho-Craft, POD Manager at the Allan Hancock College vaccination site in Santa Maria.
Residents 18 and older will be receiving the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Younger residents will receive the Pfizer vaccine.
"The initial study that was done on Pfizer, the follow-up included down to age 16,” Camacho said.
The week-long clinic at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria has the capacity to vaccinate about 1,600 people daily, according to Camacho.
College support staff on-site can help those who need assistance with translation or simply signing up for the vaccine.
"Our role as the college is to support Public Health with their operations, so we are here providing support staff to help with traffic control, security, and line control,” said Nohemy Ornelas, Vice President of Student Services.
"It went so quickly, like I pulled out my phone to play a game and I couldn't even play it because every time I looked up, the line was moving. It went so so quickly,” said Orcutt resident Jill Bakkum.
This site will run through the rest of the week and will move to Santa Barbara beginning next week.
"We encourage the public to be patient. We are figuring out how to really push our system so that we can get the vaccine out as quickly as possible to as many as possible,” Camacho said.
As of Tuesday, vaccine appointments have completely filled up at the Santa Maria site. Those ages 16 and older will have widespread access to the COVID-19 vaccine through hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics across the state beginning April 15.