Phyllis Patrick, 84, pulls down her sleeve and smiles after getting vaccinated for COVID-19 by CVS pharmacist Angela Nhan at Summit Senior Living in Kearns on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns at least 70 years old are the latest group in the state eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, but first must sign up for an appointment with their local health departments — a step that hasn’t been easy for many so far.
Some of the state’s 13 health districts are still finalizing plans for next week’s rollout to older Utahns, who follow front-line hospital and other health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, emergency services personnel, first responders and school personnel in getting the vaccine.
Gov. Spencer Cox lowered the age threshold from 75 to 70 years old and delegated the responsibility for vaccinations to local health districts in an effort to speed up immunizations against the deadly virus. Cox recently old the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards that basing the program on geography “simplifies the process.”
States around the country are scrambling to get residents vaccinated, especially now that the Trump administration is urging them to include older Americans, experts said during a virtual news conference Thursday held by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
“We have to get some 600 million doses into the arms of Americans to control this pandemic. We’ve known for many months that this was going to be an enormous undertaking. Unfortunately, the rollout has not gone smoothly,” said Dr. Andy Pavia, chief of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s pediatric infectious diseases division.
A lot of the issues, he said, are a result of a lack of planning and resources. Pavia said there is a concern about the “mismanage between the number of people who are being told they are eligible and the amount of vaccine that’s being distributed and the resources to get that vaccine into people.”
The government, he said, needs to be honest about when the public can expect to receive the vaccine.
Adding some 180 million people nationwide to the eligibility list when there is only enough vaccine for about 40 million people by the end of the month is “a huge disconnect and that creates a lot of problems” for health officials who are already dealing with a COVID-19 surge.
Pavia said local health districts are “well-suited” to give the vaccines, but need more help to ensure access.
“What happened here in Utah was a pretty sudden pivot to putting all the responsibility on local health departments without the concomitant moving of resources or giving them time to do the advance planning,” he said.
Had Utah’s local health districts been better equipped with resources that he said would have to come from the federal government, such as scheduling systems to make appointments, the doctor said “this would have been exactly the right thing to do.”
Tens of thousands of Salt Lake County residents trying to book an appointment crashed the county health district’s website Wednesday …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News