ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) — Public health officials in southwestern Utah continue to ask for patience as they make efforts to sort out the many challenges that made COVID-19 vaccine sign-ups difficult for the community this week.
More than 35,000 residents aged 70 and older anxious to receive their first dose poses a unique challenge compared to public health departments in other areas of the state. Although the local health district has hired up to 20 new staff members since the outbreak of the pandemic and has the manpower to administer thousands of vaccines each day, there’s one barrier, according to spokesperson David Heaton.
“It’s a matter of supply,” Heaton said. “We could easily administer 2,000 doses each day with our clinics set up and the staff training we have. We’re hoping more supplies flow from the federal level.”
Southwestern Utah public health officials are only receiving 2,000 doses each week. At that rate, it would take “several months” to vaccinate the entire 70 and older age group, which is also competing with school staff, first responders, and non-hospital medical staff who still qualify.
After the SWUPHD web page crashed several times earlier in the week, the health district moved its entire website to state servers better able to handle the huge demand. Reservations through the end of January were filled within hours once the health department created a temporary sign-up page.
Heaton announced the reservation links for the first week of February will be locked until 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 25, after residents expressed their frustration that earlier links were circulated early, allowing for sign-ups for residents 70 years and older before they were officially online.
The phone line to schedule vaccinations for people without internet access (435-986-2549) will become active Monday morning once February clinic times are open, although the department said it prefers that people try signing up online first. Residents will only be allowed to get vaccinated in the county they currently reside.
“We’re anxious to see how this next Monday will go,” Heaton said. “That’s when we will release our new registrations for February. Our website is hopefully up and ready to go and we’ve got operators standing by.”
SWUPHD will also be releasing sign-ups online Monday for separate, second-shot clinics. The time is coming for some residents to receive their second Moderna shot.
“Hang in there,” Heaton added. “We’re doing the best we can to get these vaccines out as quickly as possible.”
Sign-up links: Online at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 25:
Location: 620 South 400 East, 2nd Floor, St George UT 84770
Location: 260 DL Sargent Drive, Cedar City, UT 84721
Location: 601 Center St. Panguitch, UT, 84759
Location: 445 N. Main St., Kanab, UT, 84741.
Location: 75 W 1175 N, Beaver, UT 84713