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COVID-19 vaccines could start arriving in Utah this month

Posted at 1:39 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 16:19:18-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A COVID-19 vaccine will be arriving in Utah soon, possibly by mid-December, according to Utah’s two largest medical providers.

Physicians and administrators from Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health talked about how the vaccine will be distributed Thursday morning.

Front-line health care workers at five major hospitals will be vaccinated first. Those hospitals are University of Utah Hospital and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Intermountain Healthcare’s Medical Center in Murray, Utah Valley Regional in Provo and Dixie Regional in St. George.

READ: Officials think 20M in US will get first dose of vaccine by end of month, 100M vaccinated by March

Doctors, nurses and specialists like anesthesiologists who treat COVID-19 patients will get the first shots as will hospital housekeepers which make up one of the groups hardest hit by COVID-19.

A steady and increasing supply is expected, and all health care workers in the state will get vaccines soon.

There will be several phases of vaccine distribution, going to residents in long-term care facilities, essential workers and other groups first.

The general public should have access to the vaccines by July.

No one will be required to be vaccinated, but the hope is most will understand the benefits and take advantage of the vaccines.

The two leading vaccines, made by Pfizer and Moderna, have already gone through the initial rounds of clinical trials.

READ: Final analysis: Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine 95% effective, company to seek authorization within 'days'

Next week they will be reviewed again by a panel of independent scientists and physicians.

“And that group consists of outside vaccine experts with no political or financial ties who have evaluated dozens of vaccines before,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at U. of U. Health.

They will then determine whether or not the vaccines are ready for emergency use.

So far, just about everyone involved in the process appears to be very cautiously optimistic. If things keep trending in this positive direction, medical professionals say it will change the game significantly in terms of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 will kill about one out of every 150 people who get it, one out of 150,” Dr. Pavia said. “What we don’t know about the vaccine yet is if it might have side effects affecting one out of a half million people. So I think we can already say the benefits of preventing the disease are going to outweigh the risks of the vaccine.”

READ: COVID-19 vaccine trial participant describes side effects

There will be side effects for some people who receive the vaccination, but early indications are that they’ll be mild.

“People reporting headaches, muscle aches, fever, most of which is pretty mild,” Dr. Pavia said. “A few people are needing to take Tylenol if they have uncomfortable symptoms.”

Dr. Pavia added that experts will learn as they go because it’s a new vaccine and doctors don’t have years of experience with it.

The current vaccines will require two vaccinations and possibly a booster. Future vaccines will most likely require a single dose.