UTAH (ABC4) – According to Utah’s coronavirus dashboard, 48.3 percent of all Utahns are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Weber-Morgan Health Department falls nearly five percent short of that, but is seeing a steady growth in the vaccination rate across both counties. The health department is crediting the youth for the most recent increase in vaccination rates.
At the end of July, the Weber-Morgan Health Department reported a 41 percent vaccination rate for the entire population with 50 percent of the population having received at least one dose of the vaccine. By the end of last week, the 41 percent had grown to 43.5 percent.
“We’ll take any progress we can get,” says Amy Carter, a nurse with WMHD Communicable Diseases and Epidemiology.
She says the age group leading the new growth is the 12-to-18-year-olds. She adds: “They’re growing at about a 2.6 percent rate.” Carter says the older age groups increased by less than one percent during the same time.
Carter explains that the older groups have had a longer timeframe to get vaccinated which means they generally have a higher vaccination rate which may account for part of the slow increase.
As for the youngest age group, Carter says one reason for this upward trend in vaccination rates is school-based clinics.
“With the help of some of our community partners who’ve been in the schools and some that are still to come, they’re trying to get the students, and staff [in those areas], and their parents and families vaccinated,” says Carter.
Many of these clinics took place during school registration events. The health department plans to continue this relationship with schools for as long as there is a need.
As students across the state prepare to go back to class, the Utah Department of Health is preparing for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to increase the demand for COVID-19 testing statewide.
The biggest thing is just to keep the rest of the school community and your own families safe,” says Maggie Graul, Manager of UDOH’s K-12 COVID-19 testing program.
Graul says to help keep school communities safe, the Utah Department of Health offers rapid antigen tests directly to schools, “along with training and security use training on how to register students for tests, how to report those test results to the public health department as required by law.”
Schools interested in participating in this program can learn more here.
Health officials say testing in schools is part of creating layered protection against COVID-19. These layers include things like wearing a mask when appropriate, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and most importantly, getting vaccinated.
“That invitation is open, and we recommend everyone 12-and-older if you haven’t been vaccinated to come and get your vaccine,” says Carter.
Parents can learn more about UDOH’s K-12 school recommendations here.