SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) UPDATE Oct. 7 12:45 p.m. -- Santa Cruz County health reported another COVID-19 death from an individual that was fully vaccinated.
The individual was a white man in his early 90's and was suffering from other underlying medical conditions. He died on Oct. 2. This is the 216th COVID-19 the county has reported and the third death among vaccinated individuals.
The previous two deaths among vaccinated individuals were from women over the age of 60, also with underlying health conditions.
Santa Cruz Public Health announced the death of two people due to COVID-19, both were fully vaccinated and both had underlying conditions.
Santa Cruz Public Health Official, Dr. David Ghilarducci, says vaccines are still effective against hospitalizations and deaths and recommends the public still get their vaccines.
"I think the key message here is that the vaccines continue to be very effective in helping you from being hospitalized or from death," said Ghilarducci.
The individuals were both women over the age of 60 and 70.
"It's not 100 percent effective. And so we really are relying on layers of protection that include masking and distancing and of course, vaccination as part of that," said Ghilarducci.
For individuals who suffer from underlying conditions or are immunocompromised, he recommends getting booster shots as soon as possible.
"We find that the effectiveness does drop off probably in the 70 percentile range and that additional shots are recommended for those folks right away," said Ghilarducci.
The COVID deaths were due to community spread and in Monterey County, the VIDA Program is working to build trust in the vaccine through community engagement by going door to door in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
"Playing a tv commercial saying you should get vaccinated is not going to convince who’s hesitant, what’s going to convince someone is going to their door and having a conversation on why you should and why that person did it and so that’s really important to them," said Michael Castro, Community Initiatives Manager for Monterey County Community Foundation.
In Santa Cruz County, Ghilarducci says they're still people who want to get vaccinated, but can't.
"They just can't get away from work. They can't. Maybe they're afraid of being sick for a couple of days if they have some side effects and maybe not make it to work. So we need to still work on ways of improving access to the vaccine," said Ghilarducci.