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With J&J vaccines arriving in Utah, Gov. Cox optimistic

Gov. Spencer Cox talks to members of the media about legislative issues at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s governor is all-in on the authorized COVID-19 vaccines – he says Johnson & Johnson (J&J) doses will arrive this week, and Utah is on the way to having a much better summer. 

J&J received an emergency use authorization from the FDA over the weekend for their single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. With that latest approval, Gov. Spencer Cox expects there should be enough vaccine doses for every Utah adult who wants one by early May.

“Everyone should be excited,” Cox told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic. “I’m so tired of the pessimism, this is a time to be gloriously optimistic.”

Cox said that while we have been in a scarcity mindset for a while in terms of availability, we could run into a surplus problem where we could have more vaccine doses than people who want them.

“We’ve got to start messaging that and trying to convince as many people as possible,” Cox continued.

“The good news is that that the Deseret News and KSL did a poll last week that shows that people’s willingness to get this vaccine is actually increasing. And that’s great news. That’s what we want to hear. Because in order to get herd immunity we need to have probably 70% or 75% [of Utahns vaccinated.]”

Don’t get hung up on brand names

Cox said one thing he is worried about is too many people will get hung up on which vaccine they will get. That is something he says should be the last thing on people’s minds. 

“I’ve heard some of the best doctors in the country say, ‘If I could get this vaccine today versus Moderna or Pfizer tomorrow, I would get this vaccine today.’ So there should be no worries whatsoever about this.”

Cox said the plans currently are for the state to try and use the J&J vaccine which only requires regular refrigeration to ensure those in the state’s more rural and hard to reach areas are able to receive a vaccination. 

“If you get that chance to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, don’t hesitate, get it, it will save your life.”

J&J one step closer to a return to ‘normal’ in Utah 

Cox said he hopes that with an increase in Utah’s allotment of vaccine doses and the increase in willingness to receive vaccinations, that things will start making a return to “normal” this summer.

He said that the state is currently assessing four main indicators for their guidance on things like mask mandates and public gatherings. 

“So, you have to be in a low transmission [index] anyway, that includes low rates of spread, it includes low hospitalization and a low percent positivity rate.”

In addition to those metrics, Cox said the last thing they’re looking at is access to the vaccine.

“So as long as we have enough for 70% of the adults in this state that want one. Which again, we think will hit by the end of April, or early May, plus eight weeks after that, [which] gives them time to get their first dose, and their second dose, and for that immunity to kick in.

“That’s what we’re talking about.”

Cox said with those cautious, yet optimistic guidelines, he is hoping to see things back to some sort of ‘normal’ by the Fourth of July 2021.

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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