How moving from mass vaccination sites to local providers helps with Utah’s vaccine equity

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Health officials say the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is going down, and mass vaccination sites are starting to close as they transition to work with local providers, offering easier access to the shot and greater vaccine equity.

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Mass vaccination sites in Salt Lake County used to be packed with people waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ve heard stories of people who were on the phone for an hour, two hours, just waiting to find that spot, refresh, refresh, to find where the new spots available are,” said Caroline Moreno, the health department’s equitable access manager.

But demand is going down, said Moreno.

“We’re starting to try to find that next tier of people who it’s not all that easy to get to those large sites or maybe a little bit more hesitant,” she said.

Pop-up clinics and box stores like CVS, Walmart, Costco, and Smiths have stepped up to help their local communities have easier access to the vaccine.

“It’s becoming more normalized in places that are open for longer hours. You don’t have to go to a specific site between this hour and that hour,” Moreno said.

She said with the exception of the county’s Asian community, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, American Indians, and Latinx individuals are getting vaccinated at a lower rate than Caucasians.

With local providers offering more convenient ways to get the shot, Moreno said it’s helping to provide vaccine equity.

“The easier it is for people to get the vaccine, the better. If there are locations that they know are always there, and they know they can go in when they have a minute. We need to get our total number of vaccinated folks up so that we can protect not only ourselves but our communities,” she said.

As of Wednesday, SLCOHD reports 467,224 people were vaccinated at a public health clinic, 229,255 people vaccinated at a pharmacy chain, and 147,752 people vaccinated at a hospital.

The Maverik Center and Mountain America Expo Center remain open for vaccination, including walk-ins, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Salt Palace Convention Center will close Saturday, May 29th.

COVID-19 testing ends Friday, May 28 at the Maverik Center, the last mass testing site in the county.

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