Santa Cruz County officials said Thursday that 73 percent of the county's residents age 65 and older have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. (Photo via Maryland GovPics/Flickr)

Nearly three-quarters of Santa Cruz County’s population of adults age 65 and older have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, county health officials said Thursday.

Some 73 percent of county residents 65 and older have received at least one dose while 82 percent of residents 75 and older have received at least one dose, according to Dr. David Ghilarducci, the county’s EMS medical director and deputy health officer.

“We know that we still have some work to do in that group and we’re going to continue to focus on that group,” Ghilarducci said Thursday during a briefing on the pandemic. “But these are really remarkable numbers.”

The county is now sixth in the state by vaccinations per capita, Ghilarducci added.

Santa Cruz County also received its first shipment Thursday morning of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson and Johnson, which only requires one dose. The shipment added 1,300 doses to the county’s stockpile, according to Ghilarducci.

With local vaccinations progressing and falling case rates, county Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said Santa Cruz County is likely to fall out of the most-restrictive purple tier of the state’s pandemic reopening system as soon as next week.

“Nothing changes the fact that our disease trajectory is in a very positive mode,” Newel said. “We continue in a very steep trajectory in terms of case rates, hospitalizations and deaths.”

The move out of the purple tier and into the red tier will allow the county to reopen businesses and activities like indoor dining, indoor gyms and indoor movie theaters.

Newel also floated that state officials could soon announce new guidance allowing outdoor activities like professional sports, theater performances and amusement parks to reopen as soon as April 1.

Santa Cruz County is expected to join the state’s MyTurn vaccination scheduling tool on March 15, county officials said. At that time, it will also come under the purview of Blue Shield of California, which has contracted with the state as a third-party administrator of the vaccination rollout.

On March 15, the county will also be able to make vaccines available to residents ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, including cancer, obesity, pregnancy and heart disease.

Santa Cruz County residents can find more information on vaccine availability and eligibility at