SALT LAKE CITY — COVID-19 vaccinations are now available for Utahns ages 50 and older, and the state has also expanded the list of qualifying health conditions that make vaccines available for those 16 and older.
Governor Spencer Cox announced the expansions for vaccination eligibility during a news conference last week.
The new qualifying health conditions—called "comorbidities"—include both Type I and Type II diabetes, stage 4 or stage 5 chronic kidney disease and a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be available for all healthcare workers who have contact with patients, long-term care facility staff members and residents, K-12 teachers and school staff, and first-responders (such as law enforcement officers, paramedics, dispatchers and corrections officers).
Last week, Utah began to receive its first shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, allowing the state to offer vaccinations to a larger age group and more people with qualifying comorbidities.
Three COVID-19 vaccines are now approved for use in the United States. Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines were approved in December, and the Johnson & Johnson was approved on February 27.
Although more and more people are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, doctors warn that safety precautions like wearing masks and social-distancing are still important.
"I think the last thing we want to drop is masking in risky situations," said Dr. Jay Jacobson, an emeritus professor of infectious disease and medical ethics at the University of Utah. "It's so easy to continue that, that it shouldn't be a problem."