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Frontline healthcare workers could get COVID-19 vaccine by December; all Utahns by July

Posted at 2:05 PM, Nov 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah leaders are discussing how to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines once they become available in the state.

The Utah Dept. of Health gave a timeline Wednesday of when Utahns can potentially expect to get the vaccine.

Rich Lakin is the department’s immunization program manager.

He says that while the state still can't say for sure when it will get the vaccine, the planning stages are underway.

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The state is divided into phases and waves based on need and risk levels.

In phase one and the first wave, Utah could potentially receive 100,000 doses which will go to five hospitals in the state.

They are LDS Hospital and University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah Valley Regional Hospital in Provo, and Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Those hospitals are preparing to get the vaccine in the second week of December with 30 other hospitals to follow a week or two later to vaccinate their staff.

Also in phase one but in the second and third waves in February or March, long-term care facilities will get the vaccine for their residents and staff.

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Phase two is expected to start in March and run through July of next year.

In that phase, tribal entities, people age 65 and older, teachers, childcare workers, personal care and airline workers can anticipate getting the vaccine with higher risk groups and essential workers going first.

All other Utahns who are not in any of the above groups should be able to get the vaccine by midsummer.

“Utahns who are not in the high risk group can anticipate getting the vaccine in July, that is if everything goes smoothly and depending on the amount of supply the state receives,” Lakin said. “So anybody that has limited exposure, and does not have a high risk, then yes that population would be most likely in the July time frame.”

The state expects to get the Pfizer vaccine in the first or second week of December and the Moderna vaccine sometime in January. Both have high efficacy rates of 95 percent.

Lakin says the vaccine news is good and exciting, but warns that mask wearing, social distancing and other ways to avoid the spread of the coronavirus must be done until the data shows that the coronavirus is under control.