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Cox: COVID-19 vaccine may be available for all Utahns sooner than expected

State leaders believe Utah may start getting enough doses to make COVID-19 vaccines available for everyone who wants one by April or May. (PHOTO: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox says the COVID-19 vaccine may be available for all Utahns sooner than expected, as new numbers from the state health department revealed case counts continue to drop. 

The Utah Department of Health reported Wednesday a seven day rolling average of positive COVID-19 tests of 15.3%, a number not seen in months. The health department reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, for a total of 357,339 since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 16,000 Utahns received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 442,476 to date in Utah. 

More data: KSL NewsRadio Coronavirus Tracker

Waiting for the vaccine to be available for all

Cox answered questions about the virus and vaccines on a Facebook live event Tuesday night. He said he spoke with federal officials and members of the Biden administration as recently as this week. Those conversations indicate Utah will start getting enough doses to make vaccines available for everyone who wants one by April or May.

“We could really see a significant [increase,]” he explained. “We could go from about 42,000 doses a week to over 100,000 doses a week.”

More drug manufacturers joining the vaccine effort

The optimistic outlook comes as different drug manufacturers are on the precipice of joining Moderna and Pfizer in gaining approval for widespread distribution.

“Especially if the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes online,” said Cox. “They’ve just submitted their paperwork to gain approval.”

An increase in vaccine distribution would also be welcome news for older Utahns and residents with underlying medical conditions.

Beginning March 1, residents age 65 and older and those with some severe and chronic health conditions become the next group of people in Utah eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some of the eligible medical conditions include solid organ transplant recipients, certain cancers, immunocompromised state from blood, bone marrow or organ transplant; HIV, use of long-term corticosteroids; or long-term use of other immune weakening medicines.