(ABC4) — Utah’s vaccine rollout is underway. So far, frontline healthcare workers, K-12 teachers, and school staff, those living in long-term care facilities, and Utahns 70 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Though we are happy those in need are first on the list to receive their vaccines, we can’t help but wonder when the general public will be able to get their doses?
According to state health officials, they are working to make it easy for everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Unfortunately, current doses are very limited right now.
Due to limited supply, policymakers have had to develop plans to make sure those who are most at-risk get the vaccine first and that vaccines are distributed in a fair, ethical, and transparent way.
According to the Utah Department of Health, a workgroup made up of health professionals throughout the state has been organized. The group is being called “The Utah Prioritization Workgroup” and was created to develop recommendations for how to prioritize vaccination groups on the state and local level, health officials add.
“Their final recommendations are based on state and local data and need, vaccine storage capability of facilities, and guidance from the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” the state shared on their COVID-19 information page.
They say they hope to have more vaccines become available over the next few weeks and months.
“We expect COVID-19 vaccines will be available in March for other age groups, people with certain underlying medical conditions, and those who live in congregate settings and are at higher risk for the virus that causes COVID-19,” as stated by the Utah Department of Health.
They say as more vaccines become available, Utahns can expect to get their doses at many locations throughout the community.
Locations like your local pharmacy, your doctor’s office, and local health departments will offer vaccination. The latest from the health department state they “expect COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Utahns in April-July 2021.”
“Right now, we are still anticipating vaccines will become available for the general public sometime in the March to July timeframe,” Public Information Officer for the Utah Department of Health Jenny Johnson tells ABC4.
“Likely, vaccines will be available first to Utahns 65+ and those with underlying medical conditions, which is why this is still such a broad range of time. As we are able to secure more vaccine from the federal government and as new vaccines get Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, we will be able to move more quickly through priority groups and speed up the timeline for the general public to access this effective, safe, and lifesaving vaccine. We also fully expect other vaccine providers to come on board in the coming months as we get more and more vaccines, including large retail pharmacies, private pharmacies, clinics, and private healthcare providers,” Johnson adds.
On Sunday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox issued a statement on how the state’s current vaccine distribution plan is going.
“Thanks to our partners — especially local health departments — Utah has administered 100% of the first doses we received seven days ago and we anticipate the same will be true for this week. Our first priority remains ensuring we administer every dose we receive as quickly as we can,” Cox shares.
“Utah is now ranked ninth-best in the nation for administering the doses that have been delivered in the state,” the governor adds.
The health department says the COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Utah has been committed to providing Utahns with accurate, transparent, and up-to-date health information and recommendations so individuals can make informed decisions to protect their families, businesses, and our communities. Our goal is to keep Utahns safe, healthy, and working,” as stated by the Utah Department of Health.
Gov. Cox says Utah has been open and transparent about vaccine distribution progress throughout the state. He says moving forward, transparency will remain important.
Anyone who has additional questions regarding vaccine distribution and eligibility is asked to contact their local health department.