SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah put in an order for the second dose of the COVID19 vaccine this week in hopes to roll it out next week.
Vaccine administration started off slow, State leaders said in a press conference on Wednesday, but they are confident it will gain momentum.
“The initial rollout of the vaccine has been slow, slower than we had anticipated," said Rich Lakin, immunization manager for the Utah Department of Health.
Never has the State been tasked with distributing such a large number of vaccines at once said Lakin.
"They’ve had to take care of patient care and they’ve had to make sure they don’t vaccinate every hospital department at the same time," said Lakin when asked about the cause of vaccine administration delay.
Doctor Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician with Intermountain Healthcare, has been both vaccinated and the one administering the vaccine to his fellow healthcare workers.
One of the challenges Dr. Stenehjem said they've faced is making sure workers in certain units, like the ICU, take the vaccine at the end of their five to seven day shift.
If workers develop symptoms, said Dr. Stenehjem, they will be off work for a few days.
These logistics and others have added to delays in vaccination administration said Dr. Stenehjem.
Currently, more than 100,000 vaccines have been shipped across the State but only 20,000 have been administered.
In Davis County, drive-thru clinics allow 28 cars to be vaccinated at a time.
The state anticipates 5,000 doses to be administered in Davis County by the beginning of next week.
The Bear River Health Department, which hosts walk-in clinics for healthcare workers, anticipates administering 2,300 doses in the next few days.
“Our first priority is caring for the health and integrity of our healthcare networks," said Dr. Stenehjem. "So that when you or your loved one needs care, we’re there for you.”
“Don’t become a patient, that is our absolute number one request," said Dr. Stenehjem. "If you could do that, we’d be forever grateful.”
Early studies on the second strain of COVID19 detected in the UK and in Colorado seems to be more contagious but less severe, said Dr. Stenehjem.