SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health said that 80% of adults in this state could be fully vaccinated by the end of June.
During a briefing before the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Wednesday, UDOH Executive Director Rich Saunders also detailed plans to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine efforts. FOX 13 first reported on Tuesday that Utah expected to receive up to 245,000 doses in March as the federal government ramps up distribution and more pharmaceutical companies get approved.
The state is working to dramatically expand vaccination sites. In addition to local health departments, UDOH is working with Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health and other health care providers to inoculate people. The agency also told lawmakers that Associated Food Stores agreed to distribute the vaccine at its 94 stores across the state.
With more doses and vaccine timelines speeding up, UDOH told lawmakers that Governor Spencer Cox on Thursday would put out a call for volunteers to help with vaccine efforts. Those qualified could help with inoculation, while others could help with logistics and data entry.
UDOH predicts that all Utah adults will have been offered the vaccine by the end of May, according to immunization program director Rich Lakin. As FOX 13 reported, the general public could be offered the vaccine by April, but likely May. The agency projects that by the end of June, 80% of Utah adults would have received both doses of the vaccine needed.
Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, who chairs the committee, asked Saunders if COVID-19 restrictions like masks and physical distancing would be lifted by June? Saunders would not commit to that.
"This virus will always be with us," Sen. Kennedy remarked, noting there are variants already emerging in the state.
Saunders said the good news is that so far, the vaccine works on those variants.