SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox has ordered second-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be re-purposed for someone else as a first-dose, if the person who was supposed to get the original shot skips their appointment.
Speaking to reporters at his monthly news conference on public television, Gov. Cox said he was pleased with how Utah has been handling vaccinations overall.
"Our partners have stepped up in a very big way over the last two weeks," he said, adding that local health departments and hospitals have used the vast majority of their doses with only 1,800 left this week.
The governor said he had no plans to give away second doses, unless the person was a no-show for their appointment. Utah's health care companies have reported instances of that happening.
"We will release those second doses for people who have not showed up to get them within seven days," Gov. Cox said. "Those will then become first doses. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you've lost your chance or your place in line. Just schedule and come in, there will be a dose for you."
But the governor said they don't want doses to be delayed.
"We won't have a growing glut of second doses. They will always be re-purposed for first doses," he said.
On Utah's Capitol Hill, there has been discussion among lawmakers about making all doses a "first dose" to inoculate more people faster. Gov. Cox confirmed he had been involved in those discussions and supported the idea, but health officials had advised against it.
"For now, we are going to hold those second doses and then re-distribute them as quickly as we can," Gov. Cox said.
The governor said he was very encouraged by President Biden's plans to speed up vaccine distribution.
"They are very good announcements that will certainly help us," he said.
The governor also encouraged Utahns to start purchasing N-95 masks, which are more effective at blocking COVID-19 than cloth masks. Gov. Cox has kept a statewide mask mandate in place.
"Masks work," he said.