March 9, 2021
Dear UC Santa Barbara Community Members,
Last week, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) announced that individuals working in childcare and education, including higher education, (Phase 1B of the California Guidelines) are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. This means all employees of UC Santa Barbara, including graduate students employed by the university, should be able to receive vaccines when more doses become available either through current vaccine providers or through the new third-party administrator Blue Shield distribution system. The situation continues to change on a daily basis. At this time, vaccine supplies remain extremely limited and SBCPHD is prioritizing employees in TK-12 education involved with the imminent reopening of schools, but may allocate a limited number of additional doses to our campus before Blue Shield becomes the sole vaccine administrator for California.
Unfortunately, the State of California’s decision to move to Blue Shield as the sole COVID-19 vaccine administrator means our campus will no longer receive future vaccine doses and, therefore, we do not expect to be able to offer vaccinations to UC Santa Barbara employees after next week, except for providing second doses to those who have received initial vaccinations from Student Health.
While UC medical centers that provide healthcare services to the general public are likely to continue to receive vaccines through Blue Shield, those UC campuses without medical centers — UC Santa Barbara among them — do not meet the Blue Shield contract requirements. We are extremely disheartened by this development, and we will continue to work with UCOP to aggressively advocate on behalf of our campus. If the State changes its vaccination distribution plan at a future date, we are prepared to resume our vaccination clinics and will inform our community promptly.
Register for a Vaccination with California’s MyTurn Appointment System
We strongly urge all UC Santa Barbara employees to take advantage of any opportunity to obtain vaccines through their own healthcare providers, or from those listed on the SBCPHD website, and to register online with the California Department of Public Health Portal MyTurn. Registration by telephone is also available in multiple languages at the CA COVID-19 Hotline (1-888-422-4255).
SBCPHD has indicated that some COVID-19 vaccination appointments through MyTurn should be available by the end of March for eligible individuals, including those in the higher education sector, living in Santa Barbara. Some employees who live in other California counties where Blue Shield has already started distributing vaccines may already be able to schedule appointments through MyTurn.
UC Santa Barbara employees may be able to schedule vaccine appointments at Cottage Health Community Drive-Up COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic by using either this website or this website.
Numerous pharmacies are being provided with modest quantities of vaccines directly from the Federal government, but they may be using eligibility criteria different from that of the SBCPHD. Participating pharmacies typically offer online scheduling through which individuals can determine their eligibility for a vaccine and whether any appointments are available locally.
The website VaccineFinder.org also provides information about vaccines that are available at nearby locations.
UC Santa Barbara employees who require verification of higher education employment can print out a Verification of Employment statement through UC PATH, under “Employee Actions” at the end of the “Income and Taxes” section.
Campus Vaccination Program Update
We are deeply disappointed that circumstances will not allow us to continue the important work of vaccinating members of our UC Santa Barbara community.
To date, following the guidelines of the SBCPHD and of our COVID-19 Working Group, our campus has offered COVID-19 vaccinations to all active employees age 60 and over, as well as to those working on campus in medical care or related roles (Phase 1A), childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture work (Phase 1B). We have not allowed even a single dose to expire.
If the campus receives any additional vaccines before Blue Shield takes over distribution from the SBCPHD at the end of March, we will:
- Offer vaccinations to active employees age 59, and then descending by age as remaining doses allow (Student Health will contact employees directly via email to offer appointments), and
- Continue to provide second doses to every individual who receives an initial dose from our UC Santa Barbara vaccine clinic.
We have been asked about our procedure for distributing unused doses (due to missed appointments) at the end of each vaccination clinic session. Fortunately, our planning and preparation and the use of our appointment system has made this an extremely rare occurrence. It is critically important to all of us that every dose we receive is used appropriately.
On the rare occasion that an unused dose remains available at the end of a vaccination clinic session, our procedure is to contact other eligible campus community members to come in immediately for an earlier appointment. Since we began vaccinating our campus community in January we have had, on average, one unused dose per week due to someone cancelling or missing their appointment. In these situations we asked a volunteer who was working on campus either in instruction or essential services to come to the clinic within 15 minutes. This procedure resulted in an informal waiting list. After reviewing this process, we have determined it would be more efficient and equitable if it were formalized. For any future clinics, in addition to sending out emails offering appointments, we will also contact individuals who are next in line for ;appointments, based on age, asking them to be on stand-by for a last-minute opportunity should a dose unexpectedly become available. Individuals on stand-by will need to confirm that they can make it to the campus vaccination site within 15 minutes of receiving a call from the vaccination team.
Rededication to Prevention and Mitigation Efforts
Santa Barbara County has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. While this is both heartening and encouraging, it remains imperative that we all continue to do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
The progress our county has made is the result of hard work and many sacrifices, and this is not the time to let down our guard. While the projected increase in vaccine availability is welcome news, it is more important than ever that every one of us continues to:
- Wear masks when appropriate
- Observe all physical distancing recommendations, and
- Follow all current public health guidelines.
UC Santa Barbara will continue to offer COVID-19 testing at no charge to students and to faculty and staff providing essential on-campus services.
Finally, we strongly urge everyone in our community to follow the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health to avoid non-essential travel during the upcoming spring break. This will help minimize the spread of more dangerous COVID-19 variants in Santa Barbara. Student Health has posted travel guidance here.
Updated information about UCSB COVID-19 vaccines and other developments can be found on our campus web pages. General questions may be directed to the UCSB COVID-19 Call Center at email@example.com or by calling (805) 893-3113, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator and Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Scott Grafton, M.D.
Campus COVID-19 Mitigation Program Manager and Professor of Psychology & Brain Sciences
Vejas Skripkus, M.D.
Executive Director, UC Santa Barbara Student Health
Mary Ferris, M.D.
Campus COVID-19 Clinical Advisor
Garry Mac Pherson
Vice Chancellor for Administration