FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine has little effect in northern Utah

Northern Utah News

It’s been nearly one month since the FDA gave its full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 16-years and older. In five northern Utah counties, the approval hasn’t led to much of an increase in the vaccination rate over the last few weeks.

“The more people we can get vaccinated, that is our best protection against fighting COVID,” Weber-Morgan Health Department Epidemiology Nurse Amy Carter tells ABC4.

“It is the right course of action,” Davis County Health Department Director Brian Hatch says. “For preventing infections, for preventing spread in the community, and preventing those resulting hospitalizations and deaths is getting vaccinated,” explains Bear River Health Department Epidemiologist Caleb Harrison. “It’s the best tool we have.”

Health officials from Weber-Morgan, Davis County, and Bear River Health Departments are united in their message for people living in Davis, Weber, Morgan, Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties. They urge everyone who can to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re still climbing steadily but we’d love to see those numbers increase for all age groups,” states Amy Carter.

Near the end of August, the FDA gave its full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 years and older. The question remains, “Is it affecting vaccination rates in northern Utah?”

“We’re seeing an increase,” answers Brian Hatch. “We’re still going up and we were really slow for a little bit there, and it’s picked up a little bit again.”

From the end of July through September, all three health districts saw an increase in vaccination rates among all age groups. However, during that same time, it wasn’t just vaccination rates that went up.

“Cases have sped up in every age group in our jurisdiction,” Caleb Harrison states. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 also increased. Some hospitals even had to put a pause on elective surgeries in response to the recent surge.

All three health departments credit the 12-to-8-year-old age group for most of the recent growth in vaccination rates as students got ready to go back to school.

At the Weber-Morgan Health Department, the health officer released this statement to ABC4: “FDA full approval was given to the Pfizer vaccine on August 23rd. The FDA full approval has not had an effect on vaccination rates although the rates slightly increased from the July lows.”

While the Weber-Morgan Health Department has not been impacted by the FDA’s approval, the Davis County Health Department gives it some credit to the recent increase in vaccine rates in the county. “There were people, I wouldn’t say a lot, there was a percentage of people that were waiting for that full FDA approval,” states Biran Hatch.

While the effects of the FDA’s approval are slighltly different across northern Utah, all three health departments agree that the best thing for anyone to do, is get vaccinated “so that we can hopefully get these numbers back down again, and looking at better levels, and our hospitals feeling less strain, and getting back toward those better times again,” says Amy Carter. Brian Hatch states, “And that will be the end, the end game to this is more vaccination will eventually drop it to a point where we can manage it like we do with flu every year.”

Davis County Health Department has more 65 percent of the elegible population vaccinated against COVID-19. Bear River Health Department has over 55 percent of the elegible population vaccinated against COVID-19. Weber-Morgan Health Department has more than 45 percent of the elegible population vaccinated against COVID-19.

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