Congressman Salud Carbajal joined local health officials to announce four new federal grants totaling $1,634,218 aimed at raising the number of Central Coast residents who have received the new bivalent COVID-19 booster, which is designed to combat more recent variants of the novel coronavirus.
“While we have made great strides at reducing COVID-19’s control over our lives on the Central Coast, the constantly-improving tools that we have to keep this virus at bay won’t help anyone if people fail to take the time to use them,” said Rep. Carbajal. “In order to keep our communities and frontline workers protected from newer strains of COVID-19, and keep our hospitals from being overrun in this perfect storm of multiple infectious illnesses this winter, we need more people to get these boosters. I’m proud that the federal funding that I’ve supported for our federal health departments are coming back to help our local health officials get these shots in arms as quickly as possible.”
“The best thing you can give your family this holiday season is the gift of good health – and that means getting your booster and flu shots as soon as possible, and staying home if you’re feeling sick,” Rep. Carbajal added.
The following grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were announced today by Rep. Carbajal:
- $1,041,493 for Community Health Centers of the Central Coast
- $265,765 for the County of Santa Barbara
- $214,258 for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics
- $112,702 American Indian Health & Services
The funding is made possible by a 12% increase in the HHS annual budget which Rep. Carbajal voted to approve in March 2022.
“We are incredibly fortunate to receive this funding from our Federal partners and HRSA to increase COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine awareness, with a specific focus on underserved populations. As we know from our patients and as is reported regularly in the news, COVID is still an ongoing concern even as we pivot from the pandemic footing back into our role as a key provider in our County’s Health Care Safety Net Delivery System,” said Dana Gamble, Deputy Director of the Primary Care and Family Health Division at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. “This funding will ensure we have resources through May 2023 to support a number of our COVID activities designed to promote the widespread availability of vaccines in our community and increase the demand for the highly effective boosters.”
“Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC) is honored to be selected for the Federal Government’s continued investment in the health and wellbeing of our area’s most vulnerable and underserved residents, such as farmworkers, low-income families, seniors, and the uninsured,” said Ron Castle, CEO of Community Health Centers of the Central Coast. “The Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination (ECV) Funding will serve as a vital resource in our work towards education of and providing the COVID-19 Vaccine and boosters. Being fully vaccinated continues to be the most effective way to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, and this funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will allow CHC to continue this effort.”
“SBNC considers preventative health a key pillar of excellent health care services. Immunizations, known for decades to be safe and effective, are an important, but underutilized, part of preventative care,” said Dr. Susan Lawton, Chief Medical Officer for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics. “Our primary care Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics providers all focus on keeping our seen patients up to date on recommended vaccines for their age. One area of focus for SBNC is creating a program whereby we can reach out to our assigned but not yet seen patients to spread the protection of vaccines throughout the community.”
“It is important more than ever, especially at the peak of the flu season and with an increase of in-person travel and loved ones coming together for the holidays, that we continue to vaccinate those that can be vaccinated,” said Scott Black, Chief Executive Officer, American Indian Health & Services. “AIH&S will work closely with other community partners in making sure that not only our patients have access to these vaccines, but that everyone in the community will have access to these vaccines. We are all one community.”
Currently, less than twenty percent of eligible Santa Barbara County residents have received the latest version of the COVID-19 booster. Nearly 70 percent of County residents have completed their primary series of vaccinations.
The public health officials and Rep. Carbajal also used today’s announcement to encourage Central Coast residents to be mindful of elevated rates of three different infectious diseases ahead of holiday gatherings and travel this month: COVID-19, seasonal influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Central Coast residents were encouraged to get their updated boosters and flu shot as soon as possible, stay home from work or school when you are sick, and practice other good health habits including frequent hand washing, wearing a face covering, and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Central Coast residents can find a COVID-19 booster or flu shot near them by visiting vaccines.gov.
Rep. Carbajal also highlighted his recent work helping introduce the Protecting America from Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza Act (the “Influenza Act”), which would bolster federal response to seasonal and pandemic influenza as seasonal flu rates.
More information on the Influenza Act can be found here.