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Utah Department of Health receiving more COVID-19 vaccines, unsure how it will impact timeline

FILE -- A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. U.K. health authorities rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As the Biden administration promises more shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, Utah health officials say they’re already seeing their weekly supply increase. The hope is that an increase in shipments will be enough for everyday Utahns to receive a vaccine faster than the state timeline originally predicted.

Making the best of a limited supply

As it turns out, local health officials are the first to admit that the state’s vaccine rollout plan hasn’t moved as quickly as most would like. Despite dealing with a limited supply, they contend that things are moving as fast as possible.  

“The supply is not great,” explains Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department. “We are getting doses in arms quickly.” 

Right now, COVID-19 vaccinations are only available to healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, teachers, first responders, and residents 70 and older.

It will likely stay that way until late February or early March.

Will more shipments mean a shorter timeline?

What could change is the timeline for everyone else. Rich Lakin, immunization director with the Utah Department of Health, explains how many more doses are coming the week of January 31, compared to the week prior.

“We know that we did get a thirty-percent increase of Moderna doses. So instead of  17,400 doses that we had anticipated, we are going to get 22,900 doses, ” he explains. “So, we’ve gone from 34,950 doses to 40,450.”

To this point, Utahns have been told that it may be until July before COVID-19 vaccines are made available to everyone. Although if shipments continue to increase, that timeframe could shift to late spring or early summer. 

The problem with making those predictions, according to state health officials, is that they aren’t receiving much of a long-term outlook from the federal government.

“Unfortunately, the federal government gives us information on a week-to-week basis,” says Lakin.

Ahead of healthy, young Utahns on the vaccine priority list are tribal communities, people with underlying medical conditions, and various racial and ethnic groups determined to be at a higher-risk.



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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.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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