SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Local health officials shared shared data with KION which showed how close Central Coast counties are to herd immunity. In Santa Cruz County, 60 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and 45 percent in San Benito County. Monterey County officials say at least 62 percent of the population is at least partially vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Health Officer of San Benito County and Deputy Health Officer of Santa Cruz County, Dr. David Ghilarducci says although the two counties are making progress, concerns still surround the low numbers of vaccinations among younger age groups including those 16 and older and groups ages 12 to 15.
“I think there’s maybe a concerning attitude amongst younger people that they’re not really personally at risk of getting sick, and that is largely true, you’re less likely to be in the hospital, you’re less likely to die, but people in those age groups do die from this disease," says Ghilarducci.
“Over forty percent of those age groups haven’t been vaccinated yet, even with one shot, the twelve to fifteen, of course they just got started so we’re going to give them some time.”
While there is debate over the exact number, health experts point to herd immunity being around 70 to 80 percent of the population depending on each county.
To meet that goal, Central Coast counties say they will continue providing testing, vaccination clinics and education efforts indefinitely. In San Benito County, officials say they are taking a more direct approach to educate the public through social media, public banners and even door hangers with COVID-19 and vaccine information.
“The pace of vaccinations has slowed considerably, and that’s why we need to keep our foot on the pedal, to make sure that we are at least chipping away and getting closer and closer to that 80 percentile range," says Kollin Kosmicki, San Benito County District 2 Supervisor.
Just last winter, hospitals across California were facing a crisis as they were overflowing with patients and no beds available. At the same time, San Benito County had upwards of 600 COVID-19 cases, today they report zero new cases during the last 8 days.
“Initially our problem in January was that we just didn’t have enough doses and we did a lot of advocacy with the state and feds to ensure that we’re getting our fair share," says Kosmicki.