SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Upcoming winter storms could impact COVID-19 vaccination clinic appointments but the Salt Lake County Health Department has a weather contingency plan in place.
If winter weather brings hazardous conditions, Salt Lake County outdoor vaccination clinics could be suspended.
Health and safety is a priority for the health department and spokesperson Nicholas Rupp said at every county vaccination site, there’s a safety officer.
“If they [safety officer] see concerning weather such as driving snow, blizzard-like conditions – anything that would make it unsafe for our staff or the clients we’re serving to continue receiving their vaccination…then they [safety officer] have the power to suspend operations,” Rupp said.
In the event that weather forces location closures, Rupp said those with scheduled appointments will be notified.
“The vast majority of people have given us that information, and we can text and email them and let them know that we’ve had a last-minute cancellation due to severe weather, and what date they will be rescheduled for,” Rupp said. “And they will keep their same appointment time most likely, they’ll just be shifted to a different day at that same time.”
Clinics are not open on Sundays, but the health department will re-schedule people for a later Sunday if the weather requires it.
“If it’s just Saturday, they’ll go to Sunday of the following week. If we have to cancel Monday as well, they might be pushed out one week later to Sunday,” he said. “Or depending on many appointments we got through on the day that is canceled, we may be able to combine a couple canceled days into one Sunday and just have extra staff there.
If a cancellation is necessary, Rupp said in the health department’s response to those signed up, there will also be information about what to do if that new date doesn’t work.
“Of course, we ask people to do their best to arrange their schedules to come to that rescheduled second appointment, just to help the operation run as smoothly as possible, but we will have some options for people to call and reschedule for a different time,” he said.
The health department is keeping a close eye on the weather, but as of Friday afternoon, Rupp said there are no plans to cancel appointments.
If a person is receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and their appointment is moved, Rupp said not to worry.
“If we have a snow cancellation – a weather cancellation of some kind, there should be plenty of time to get them vaccinated within that week and worst-case scenario, within the six weeks indicated by the CDC as best practice,” he said.
If weather-related closure suspends vaccination clinics, Rupp said outdoor testing sites will also be canceled.
“We’re still optimistic – that even with the forecast – that we’ll be able to vaccinate as scheduled,” he said. “We have two indoor vaccine facilities – we have the Salt Palace and the Mountain America Expo Center. Those are much less likely to be impacted by severe weather.”