Nearly half of all eligible people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Barbara County, but some say getting to a clinic has made it tough getting a shot.
To address this, Santa Barbara County health officials opened a new vaccine clinic Sunday at the Santa Maria Fairpark with more consistent availability.
Public health leaders believe there is a vaccine gap in the Santa Maria community due to in part to hesitancy. According to the county's Community Dashboard, the city has the lowest percentage of people fully vaccinated in Santa Barbara County.
The Dashboard reports that North County only has 31% of eligible people fully vaccinated, Central has 33%, and South County is at 48.7% fully vaccinated.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Van Do-Reynoso explained the possible reasons for the vaccine gap.
“I think because the hesitancy and because the vaccine availability was not in an environment that was comfortable, easy, and convenient," Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said other cities have recruited private health providers who coordinate and assist with mass vaccinations which has helped them close gaps elsewhere.
The clinic at Santa Maria Fairpark will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. On Thursdays it will be open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and is expected to continue until July 2021.
“I was kind of skeptical at first but I am going to be going to a family reunion in July but I felt like for traveling and stuff, getting the vaccine is the responsible thing to do," Tim Bradley, who got inoculated at the new clinic, said.
County officials said they chose the fairpark because it is well known and comfortable for community members, as it is the home of the Early Bird Flea Market on Fridays and Sundays.
“I think they’re doing everything that they possibly can. Really appreciate it so I didn’t think it was going to be this soon to get my daughter vaccinated, I was worried about it, but now I am happy," Santa Maria resident Saku Desilva said.
In addition to the clinic, there are three mobile clinics five days a week in Santa Maria, and one in Lompoc and Santa Barbara.
The locations change and the schedule can be found on the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department's website.