SALT LAKE CITY — Utah residents 75 years and older, as well as those with underlying medical conditions, can expect to start seeing COVID-19 vaccine distribution as early as mid-February.
However, long-term care facility residents started receiving vaccines today.
Utah plans for the vaccine in phase 2
Utah’s COVID-19 Unified Command adopted recommendations from the Utah Department of Health about who should be included during Utah’s second phase of vaccinations.
“We have seen older adults bear the most severe burden of disease in our state, and across the nation,” said Rich Saunders, UDOH interim executive director. “These individuals are far more likely to be hospitalized, to need intensive care, and to pass away from COVID-19. Ensuring these members of our community receive the vaccine as early as possible will save lives and help reduce the burden on our hospitals.”
UDOH says that Utahns who contract the virus and are older than 85 are five times more likely to be hospitalized than their next closest age group. Those 65 and older have accounted for 77% of COVID-19 related deaths in the state.
Herbert: A sensible approach
Gov. Gary Herbert says they will continue to refine the plans as Utah continues to receive vaccine doses, but this approach makes sense.
“As we move into Phase 2 of our vaccination program, it simply makes the most sense to vaccinate those who are at the highest risk for hospitalization and death first,” Herbert said. “We will continue to refine our plans, and to move forward under the principle that those who stand to suffer the most should be vaccinated first.”
UDOH said these latest plans account for the first wave of Phase 2 vaccinations, and that plans for who will be prioritized in future waves are still being considered. Those considerations include factors like age, medical conditions and those who live in “congregate settings.”
Right now local health department clinics distribute and administer the vaccine in Utah, but by the end of Phase 2, people can get them through local pharmacies and primary care providers.
Utah teachers and first responders are expected to receive vaccines later next month at the end of Phase 1.
Doses arrive for long-term care facilities
The state says Utah’s long-term care facilities will get 27,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine right away.
Brian Gross works with Woodland Park Rehabilitation Center in Salt Lake City. He says it has been a very tough year for everyone.
“Since March, healthcare staff has been working while having to wear masks and face shields and gowns, and being subjected to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests,” Gross said. “And our residents have endured significant change from their routines with limitations placed on visitors and direct family contact.”
However, he feels relieved that 90% of residents and 70% of staff are getting the vaccine.
“This is really the light at the end of our tunnel,” Gross said.
CVS, Walgreens, and Community Nursing Services are helping vaccinate people in long-term care facilities.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear a mask.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Obtain a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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