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Public Health Details COVID-19 Vaccine Scarcity and Healthcare Workers Refusing Immunization

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) officials discussed the state’s COVID-19 vaccine scarcity and the percentage of healthcare workers refusing immunization during Friday’s press conference.

PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated the county’s vaccine allocation is approximately 1.22% of its population, although Santa Barbara County is receiving more vaccine per capita than Ventura and Los Angeles counties. She stated there is a “vaccine scarcity” statewide and no county is receiving enough of the vaccine.

Phase one of the vaccine distribution prioritizes healthcare workers, approximately 26,000 in the county, and people over the age of 75, approximately 36,000. PHD estimates the county receives about 6,000 vaccine doses each week for both first and second doses, making it approximately 12 weeks or longer to complete the first phase.

PHD Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg stated the good news is they have noticed supply to the county is slowly increasing while Marian Regional Medical has been also been receiving additional vaccines as they’re under a direct federal contract.

“Please bear with us,” Dr. Ansorg said, urging the community to be patient as they wait for more vaccine supply so they can offer more appointments and open up to the next phase which includes people over 65 years of age and education/food industry workers. Approximately 100,000 doses will be needed if only 60% of people in the next phase accept the vaccine.

On top of the limited supply of vaccine, Dr. Ansorg stated only 50% of healthcare workers have accepted the COVID-19 vaccine, the majority of those declining work in skilled nursing facilities. Only 30% of nursing home staff within the county have accepted the vaccine while 80% of Cottage Health staff have been vaccinated, he said.

The majority of COVID-19-related deaths within the county are people aged 70 and older and living in congregate care settings.

Dr. Ansorg cited misinformation and hoaxes being spread on social media as one of the main reasons for vaccine refusal. Specifically, the false statement that the COVID-19 vaccine will cause sterility making it impossible for people to conceive children. “This is a complete hoax,” said Dr. Ansorg.

He also said there appears to be a high percentage of vaccine hesitancy in the Latinx population and described it as a cultural phenomenon where minority groups have a history of mistrust in the government. 

Dr. Do-Reynoso stated PHD is working with community partners on education campaigns to address these concerns and they will be hosting a town hall next week for community members to directly ask the experts.

Additional Sheriff Staff and Inmates Test COVID-19 Positive

The Sheriff’s Office is reporting five additional staff and nine additional inmates as being COVID-19 positive. One member of our professional staff, three Deputies and one Custody Deputy have been found to be COVID-19 positive. This brings the total number of Sheriff’s employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 to 111, with 101 having recovered and returned to work.

The Main Jail is reporting nine additional inmates towards the total number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19. Due to recoveries and releases, the total number of active cases today is 35, a difference of three since our last press release.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Main Jail COVID-19 Related Cases


Positive Upon Intake

Contracted Within Facility

Total Cases

Active Cases Medically Monitored/Treated








Released from Custody













Friday’s Numbers

PHD reported 136 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Friday

Three individuals were over 70 years of age and one was between the ages of 50-69 years old. Two had underlying medical conditions. Two deaths were associated with an outbreak at a congregate facility. Two resided in Santa Barbara, one in Santa Maria and one in the Goleta Valley/Gaviota area.

There have now been 334 deaths and PHD stated the county has lost more community members so far in 2021 than in all of 2020. 

There are currently 1,067 active cases including 161 hospitalizations with 44 in the ICU. The county’s ICU availability is 18.4%.

Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed there is a notable decrease with a 60.5 reduction in case rates and a 38% decrease in testing positivity. However, more work needs to be done to reopen schools and also reach the red tier.

In order to reach the less restrictive red tier, the county’s case rate would need to decrease by an additional 80% and testing positivity by 20%.

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