In Search of a Vaccine

By Gwyn Lurie   |   February 19, 2021

This Friday, February 19, at 10:30 am, the Montecito Journal will host a Community Zoom Forum on the subject of our County’s COVID Vaccination Rollout. Present at this forum will be: Congressman Salud Carbajal, State Senator Monique Limón, County Supervisors Das Williams and Gregg Hart, Santa Barbara County Director of Public Health Van Do-Reynoso, and County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg. To register, visit www.montecitojournal.net/townhalls.

We have chosen these panelists because they are the officials – federal, state, and county – who are involved with, or responsible for, setting the guidelines for who can be vaccinated when and where – determinations that profoundly affect the lives of every Santa Barbara County resident. We are grateful to them for taking the time to hear our concerns and to try to answer our questions.

Our leaders do not have free rein to make up the rules regarding distribution. And the rules coming down from federal and state governments are constantly changing. But our leaders do have some discretion over how these rules are applied locally; and in doing so, it’s important that they hear and understand our concerns.

For example, weeks ago the State made those 65 and older eligible to be vaccinated. Santa Barbara County, through its “discretionary power,” chose to limit access to those 75 and older – with certain exceptions like healthcare workers and first responders. According to a recent Los Angeles Times column by Erika D. Smith, members of the State’s cannabis industry were included in that excepted group.

Meanwhile, cancer patients and those with other life-threatening comorbidities wait for their turn to be vaccinated, as do teachers, police officers, family members co-habitating with doctors, sanitation workers, etc.

I get that these are judgement calls. But they’re judgement calls that we have a right to question. And Friday is a chance to do that.

There’s no question our county officials have a tough job. And certainly, supply has been a huge issue behind the slow and uneven rollout. But why has supply been an issue? Did we not ask for enough? Were we short-changed? Did pharmaceutical companies not make enough doses? Are the problems all due to our federal government’s slow start? Or is it something else? It would be helpful to understand.

I recently spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Kupperman, one of our county’s most well respected doctors, who asked what I thought was a very important question: if we are going to choose by the comorbidity of age, shouldn’t we also include comorbidities such as those with diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, or immunosuppression, just to name a few of the comorbidities that make people especially vulnerable to COVID?

Another important question has to do with getting access to the vaccination once it’s your turn to get a shot. The County has just sent out a list of places that those living in certain communities must go to get vaccinated. For example: those receiving a vaccination from a Montecito pharmacy must reside in the Montecito/Santa Barbara/Goleta area. Those receiving a vaccination from a Carpinteria Pharmacy must reside in Carpinteria. “I live in Summerland,” one reader asked. “So where exactly am I supposed to go if I fall between Carpinteria and Montecito?” “Why,” asked another reader, “is it being made harder and not easier to vaccinate every single human who wants to receive one?”

These are just a few of the questions we hear from our readers. Questions to which there may be very good answers. But it’s important for all of us to understand. And one thing is for certain: if we don’t tell our leaders what we think, they can’t possibly hear us. 

Please join us on Friday at 10:30 am. Bring your questions or comments or send them to us in advance; or just come to listen.

 

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