Syringes

A health professional reaches for a handful of syringes during a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday in Nogales.

Santa Cruz County officially expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to local residents and workers ages 18 and older last Friday, offering more than 4,000 vaccination appointments during the week beginning April 5.

But as of early Monday afternoon, signups for the appointments had been sluggish, with only a few more than 300 of 500 available appointments booked for Monday and 150 of 800 reserved for Tuesday, according to County Health Services Director Jeff Terrell.

“I think part of it, maybe, is that people are gone for the Easter weekend, whether they’re camping or visiting family in Tucson or whatever,” he speculated on Monday, adding that it was difficult to know for sure.

Terrell said the county had opened 800 appointments for Moderna vaccinations each day from Tuesday through Friday, as well as another 800 appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Saturday. The Moderna vaccine is a two-shot series while the J&J is a single dose.

Registration for these appointments is now being done primarily online here (the link is also available from www.santacruzcountyaz.gov/732/COVID-19-Novel-Coronavirus). In addition, people can book an appointment by calling the county’s COVID-19 hotline at (520) 375-7626.

On Monday, the J&J slots for Saturday appeared to be fully booked online. However, Terrell clarified that was a technical glitch in the system.

“There’s something going on with that. I don’t know why those templates aren’t showing up,” he said. “They’re not booked. For some reason, that one’s not working so they need to call (the COVID hotline).”

If the county isn’t able to fully book all the available appointments and get the shots into people’s arms this week, Terrell said, the doses will be kept in proper storage and will be used when the registrations pick back up.

But, he said, the low turnout this week could affect the number of vaccines the county receives in the future.

“It depends on how fast we start, what we see and what we have booked for the future. But it could affect our allocations,” he said.

By the numbers

As of Monday, state data showed that 19,131 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine in Santa Cruz County. Of those, 11,034 had been fully vaccinated.

U.S. Census estimates from 2019 put the county’s population at 46,498, with 26.6 percent of local residents under the age of 18, meaning they are not eligible for either of the two vaccines being offered in Santa Cruz County.

That leaves an estimated 34,130 county residents who are eligible for a vaccine.

The 19,000-plus people given at east one vaccination dose as of Monday therefore represents more than half the approximate number of community members who are eligible, though some of the vaccines administered here have been for people who work locally but live in another county.

Data posted Monday by the County Health Services Department showed 7,793 confirmed COVID-19 cases among local residents since the start of the pandemic. That represented a one-week increase of 26 cases.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the county remained at 172, a number that has been unchanged for the past two weeks. Hospitalizations were at 543 as of Monday, the same as they’ve been since March 25.

In Nogales, Sonora, there had been 4,459 confirmed cases and 489 deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of Sunday, according to a briefing from the state government. That marked weekly increases of 17 cases and three deaths.

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