Nationwide COVID-19 vaccine shortage impacting Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4 News) – The impacts of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine shortage are being felt in Utah.

On Monday, the health department of the state’s most populous county told ABC4 that Salt Lake County has administered 27,947 doses, saying, “it’s below what we are capable of, but all the vaccine doses we had.”

When asked why the county wasn’t receiving the doses it needs to administer the vaccine, the reply was “because there’s a national shortage of the vaccine.”

Across the state, 229,575 vaccines have been administered.

In the wake of reports the state is falling behind on its vaccine rollout, Governor Spencer Cox released a statement Sunday saying in part, “Utah has administered 100% of the first doses we received seven days ago and we anticipate the same will be true for this week.”

On Monday, the Utah Department of Health released an update on its coronavirus website stating “We had a discussion with CDC today and confirmed allocation of doses is determined “pro rata by population 18 and older.”

Utah disproportionately has a young population with more than 900,000 people 17 or younger out of 3 million individuals across the state.

This means compared to the rest of the U.S. population, “Utah gets about 10% fewer allocations.”

As vaccine manufacturing is anticipated to match the need, the governor has Utah National Guard troops helping with the distribution. On Friday, Gov. Cox tweeted out, “Since Jan. 15, our Utah National Guard troops have served in Washington, D.C., with distinction. Now it’s time to bring them home as we need their help distributing COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the state.”

This all comes as Dr. David Kessler, the Co-Chair of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force made comments in a recent interview saying the federal government is “gearing up” for a more extensive and smoother distribution process. “I wish I could tell you there’s plenty of vaccines and we can fill all these endless amounts of appointments,” said Kessler. “We can’t. It’s going to take us months to have enough supply.”

When it comes to trained health professionals administering the vaccine, Dr. Kessler says, “Commissioned Corps, medical reserve, we’re going to use everyone we can. Veterinarians, dentists, anyone who’s given shots in the past, retired physicians, nurses. We want everyone who has been trained. So I think to the vaccine hesitancy, you want somebody who’s been trained to put this in your arm, and I think people would respect that. But I think this is where many people, especially those who are not sitting there in the intensive care units, and the hospitalists. There are many people beyond those who can vaccinate, and we’re calling on everyone in setting up those units.”

Kessler’s comments were made in a SiriusXM interview on “Doctor Radio Reports” with Dr. Marc Siegel.

For this report, ABC4 reached out to the Governor’s Office and both the state and Salt Lake Co. Health Departments. We either didn’t receive a response or were declined an interview.

As stated in an ABC4 report earlier this month, the nation fell short by 17.3 million of its goal to have 20 million Americans vaccinated by the start of the year.

It led to Utah Senator Mitt Romney to call on the federal government to develop a “comprehensive vaccination plan” to send to states. “We’ve sat back and assumed that somehow creating the vaccine was all we had to do. And that was simply inadequate,” said Romney.

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