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Lawmakers say Utah’s COVID-19 vaccine allotment is too low and instruction from federal government unclear

(Utah National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sean Conorich conducts COVID-19 rapid testing at the Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah is reportedly getting much fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government per capita than other states.  Elected officials say they’re trying to determine why this is happening, especially since health departments are equipped to give out many more doses than they currently are.

Currently, the state is getting 33,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine every week from the federal government.  Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson says the CDC determines how many doses each state will get based on population over the age of 18.  For now, she says there isn’t much Utah can do to boost than number.

“We are given what we get,” Henderson tells KSL’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry.  “If we could place an order, we’d get a lot more than 33,000 doses a week.  We would get as much as we could possibly use.”

Henderson believes Utah’s dose allotment will go up as vaccine production increases.  She says governors from across the country will take part in a group phone call with the Biden administration to get clarity on future vaccine rollout plans.

“Right now, it’s really a matter of supply and demand, and demand is far outstripping supply,” she says.

However, other elected officials believe Utah’s allotment should be more than what it currently is.

Representative Paul Ray tells KSL’s Dave and Dujanovic, “We’re probably, getting around 160 doses per thousand people, and the average is over 190 per thousand in other states.  We’re getting the lowest amount [out of] all the states, and we’ve got to figure out why that is.”

Ray says the communication from the federal government has been very bad since the beginning of the rollout, which is causing confusion among the states.  He wonders if those unclear instructions are one of the factors into the low dose number.  Ray says the confusion is mostly centered around second doses and whether they should be released for first-timers.

“We were being told that those were second doses for those people, but then we were being told that if you don’t use all your doses, you don’t get more doses,” Ray says.  “We were told that those needed to go into arms immediately.  Now, we’re being told, ‘We don’t know.’”

Ray says if the federal government were to increase Utah’s weekly allotment to 100,000 per week, he believes state health workers would be able to distribute them, especially since smaller facilities have asked to administer doses of the vaccine.

“I know that we have pharmacies that have put all their paperwork in, and they’re waiting for the approval.  We have medical facilities and doctor’s clinics, and so forth, that have put their paperwork in,” Ray says.

 

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