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SLC Mayor says hospitals have reached their breaking point with rising COVID-19 patients rationing hospital care, COVID-19 vaccine coming to Utah. But who gets it first?
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COVID-19 vaccine coming to Utah. But who gets it first?

(University Hospital. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved, but five major hospitals are expected to get a shipment of it within weeks. 

Utah Department of Health Immunization Director Rich Lakin says the hospitals are able to store thousands of vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in ultra-cold freezers and give it to their employees right away as soon as they get the okay from the Food and Drug Administration.  

“[The vaccine] will go through the approval process. They’ll look at the data, make sure this vaccine is safe and effective. Then it will be approved. And then the vaccine will already be at these five hospitals,” Lakin says. 

All employees at those hospitals will have access to it.   

“We’re not just talking about healthcare workers. We’re talking about everybody that works in that hospital. Those that clean the beds after and those janitorial and food service [workers]. They all need to be vaccinated,” Lakin says. 

The COVID-19 vaccine was actually expected to be delivered earlier this month in Utah, but Lakin says Pfizer went and rechecked their data before announcing on Monday that its most recent clinical trial showed 90% efficacy. 

It also reassures him that the vaccine will be safe.

“We had anticipated that we were going to receive the vaccine November 1st, but everybody wants to continue to review the data. That’s why it’s delayed,” Lakin says. “I think that shows that they are ensuring that the vaccine is safe and it’s not being politicized.” 

Once the five hospitals distribute their vaccines, the health department will work to get the COVID-19 vaccine to other hospitals, then to long-term care facilities and first responders. 

The vaccine may not become widely available to the public until the summer. 

However, Lakin says Moderna is not too far behind in their COVID-19 clinical trials. 

Lakin says that the vaccine, if approved, will most likely be given to different populations of people than Pfizer’s.

 

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