By Raiza Giorgi

Santa Barbara County Public Health Officials have been rolling out the COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly as possible to patient-facing health care workers and will soon start distributing to the general population starting early February, according to their website.

“This virus does not effect everyone the same. We see everything from very mild to barely any symptoms to neurological issues, blood clots and severe pulmonary issues,” said Dr. David Fisk, infectious disease doctor at Cottage Health.

Fisk has been the resident infectious disease doctor for 14 years at Cottage Health, having graduated from John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland.

“The research on this virus is compelling and the fact we have gotten the vaccination so quickly is amazing and extremely promising, especially if lots of people get it. We are still unknown on how long the vaccine will last. It could be three months or 10 years,” Fisk said.

Fisk said he has been getting a lot of questions on the efficacy of the vaccine and people being scared to get it, even healthcare workers.

“I understand this came about in a short time. What I tell people is to do their research. Look at the company’s websites and immunization procedures, I also tell people to look at the CDC and the Advisory Council on Immunization Procedures (ACIP). For me, I decided to take the vaccine and I have a lot of extensive knowledge in the subject and experience in the field,” Fisk said.

He added that the safety trials performed with 40,000 people with little to no side effects was also another reason he decided to get his.

“It is ‘new’ medicare technology and there are unknowns, but based on the studies the safety signs are favorable,” Fisk said.

At the moment, you cannot just walk into a pharmacy or vaccination clinic and get one. There is a tiered system rolled out by the state Public Health.

For now, the healthcare workers as well as seniors at long-term care facilities have been in the top tier for getting their first and second shots. Atterdag Village os Solvang vaccinated 95 percent of their residents on January 2, with the first dose of the Pfiizer vaccine. The day went smoothly with minimal side effects the next day, according to their social media post. The second dose will be given on Saturday January 23rd, and those residents and staff that did not receive the first dose on January 2 will be able to receive their first dose (if desired) on January 23 with a second dose offered on February 13.

The next group that will be eligible for the vaccine are: people age 65 or older; essential workers at risk of exposure in education and child care; essential workers at risk of exposure in food, agriculture and grocery industries; and essential workers at risk of exposure in emergency services. Those vaccinations will start early to mid-March, according to public health.  

Following that group will be persons age 50 – 64 and persons 16 to 49 years of age that have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19. Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors: Water and wastewater; Defense; Energy; Chemical and hazardous materials; Communications and IT; Financial services and Government operations / community-based essential functions.

Following that group will be everyone else not mentioned above which could be late spring into early summer.

Those who are interested to get more information on how to sign up email or call the 2-1-1 call center with questions. 

Qualified health care workers can get more information and register for appointments through the county at or they can make vaccine appointments at six local pharmacies, listed below: 

– Vons Pharmacy at 1046 Coast Village Road, Suite B in Santa Barbara

– Sav-On Pharmacy at 1018 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria

– Sav-On Pharmacy at 2320 S. Broadway in Santa Maria

– Sav-On Pharmacy at 1120 E. Clark Ave. in Orcutt

– Sav-On Pharmacy at 1500 North H St. in Lompoc

– Vons Pharmacy at 729 North H St. in Lompoc