In partnership with local community organizations, the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health has provided mobile 77 vaccine clinics around the county — 66 first-dose clinics and 11 second-dose — administering over 1,400 vaccinations.
Locations close to Isla Vista include UC Santa Barbara Student Health, the Goleta Valley Community Center and the upcoming clinic at fraternity Sigma Chi’s chapter house. Generally, the county offers organizations a choice of providing the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Jackie Ruiz, the public information officer at the Public Health Department.
“We’ve gone to a variety of places, we’ve gone to places where people work, where they worship, places that they frequent. And so by creating more access points in the community, we’re just really eager to get more of our community members vaccinated in a way that’s accessible to them,” Ruiz said.
To participate in the program, sites must fill out consent forms, assign appointment times to the eligible persons, provide a space to hold the clinic and tents, tables, chairs and water for the observation area and be able to secure anywhere between 80 and 250 eligible appointments for the day of the clinic. However, smaller sites can potentially work with other organizations to host a combined clinic, according to the Department of Public Health.
Appointments for the second vaccine shot, if necessary, are scheduled on-site, and the county will return to the sites to the pop-up sites to administer the second dose. The clinics are assisting countywide efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 through vaccinations — currently, 40% of the county is fully vaccinated.
The program also aims to focus on health equity by removing the barriers that Santa Barbara residents might face when seeking vaccinations, according to Ruiz.
“It’s our mission to continuously go to people where they are, meet them where they are, provide information and provide services,” she said.
“We look for locations in which we know folks who may be at greater risk for COVID, [like] folks living in congregate settings. We’ve had a couple of clinics … that really focused more on communities of color and non-English-speaking communities,” Ruiz continued.
One such location was the Goleta Valley Community Center, which vaccinated 105 people during its one-day clinic held earlier this month. According to Charlie Johnson, the manager of the community center, the clinic — which offered the Moderna vaccine — focused on the local Latinx population.
“The community center is central to our community and is where people come. So they’re very familiar with the place, it’s easy to get to, we have wonderful parking and it provided a safe haven for them to come and in this case, walk in, no appointment, and get their vaccinations,” Johnson said.
The familiar, relatively small and walking-distance clinic removed many of the barriers that community members might face in going to larger and further away vaccination sites, he said.
“I think all the advertising that they did, it worked wonderfully, they had 105 [people],” Johnson said of the site, which already administers around 75 COVID-19 tests a day. “It’s not near what the testing is. But it was important because this is 105 people that [showed up], and they plan on showing up for the second one.”
Johnson said that upon receiving the county’s request to host a clinic, he agreed to it immediately, excited for the center to once again serve the community.
“I said, ‘If we’re allowed to be a community center, we’re all for it.’ This benefits the community, and that’s what we want to do,” he said.
UCSB and the county partnered to host a mobile clinic for UCSB students on May 6 at Parking Lot 25. The clinic, which offered a choice of both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, vaccinated close to 300 students, UCSB’s medical director Dr. Ali Javanbakht said in a statement to the Nexus.
“The county approached our executive director, Dr. Vejas Skripkus, about the county mobile clinic and if we wanted to host them on campus. We took them up on that offer and worked out a date that worked well for us and them,” Javanbakht said.
Although the clinic required that students make an appointment via their student health portal, they had the capacity to accept about 20 walk-ins, according to Javanbakht.
“We are definitely continuing our mobile vaccination program efforts throughout our communities, including UCSB,” Ruiz said, noting that the county will be back to campus “very, very shortly” to administer second doses of the Moderna vaccine.
“The partnership with UCSB has been a long-standing one, and it definitely will be ongoing as we move into the summer and into the fall,” she continued, noting that vaccination efforts extended onto campus will make the vaccine more accessible to students.
Moving forward, UCSB will also be offering weekly vaccination clinics on Thursdays from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm on May 20, May 27, June 3 and June 10. Students can sign up for the clinics, which will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, on the student health portal.
An upcoming May 22 mobile vaccination clinic, hosted in partnership with the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) and UCSB Greek Life — including Panhellenic, Interfraternity Council and the United Sorority and Fraternity Council — also will aim to increase vaccine availability for students and I.V. community members.
“The Inter-Greek Council realized that no vaccine clinic was easily accessible for I.V. residents without cars or who didn’t feel comfortable using rideshare services,” Sophia Lake, the president of UCSB’s Panhellenic Council, said in a statement to the Nexus.
The council reached out to the I.V. CSD and then was put in contact with the county to host the clinic, which will run from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Sigma Chi chapter house and provide the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on a walk-in basis, according to Lake.
“Because it’s a one-shot it’s easier to get people [vaccinated],” Jonathan Abboud, the general manager of the I.V. CSD, said of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine choice. “What we’ve heard from feedback is [that] we’ve got people who haven’t gotten vaccinated, and yet a one-shot will be easier for them.”
Abboud said the clinic will be offering approximately 120 doses.
Lake also said that due to the timing of the clinic, second-dose appointments would have been scheduled for after UCSB’s finals, making Johnson & Johnson a more efficient choice.
“We wanted to make sure that there was a location that was convenient and easy for Isla Vista residents … just to make getting vaccinated as easy as possible,” Abboud said.
During a May 7 COVID-19 press conference, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said that she saw mobile vaccine clinics as the future of the county’s vaccination efforts.
“The mobile clinics are needed now to make sure that it’s available in communities, in places that individuals are comfortable getting their vaccination. So I anticipate that we will go to a smaller clinic model more specific to communities,” she said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the May 20, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.