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Utah County concerned vaccine clinics slowing down

Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 23:58:46-05

UTAH COUNTY — With weeks to go before the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Utah County Health Department said it is concerned vaccine clinics are already slowing down.

Time slots are taking longer to fill, they said, and appointments are going unfilled.

On Friday, people steadily trickled into a Nomi Health vaccination clinic in Orem, ready for the first dose of the vaccine.

84-year old Beverly Brunski stepped up to the doors with her rolling walker, followed by her daughter Rayanne Melick.

Melick drove her mother to the clinic from Pleasant Grove.

"It takes a lot to get out, with the walker and stuff," she said.

They've waited weeks to make it out for this appointment, after Melick said she tried over and over to make a vaccine appointment for Brunski through the Utah County Health Department.

Time slots just kept filling up too fast.

"I tried to get through online when they first opened, and I couldn't get on until literally earlier this week," she said.

Openings this week at Nomi finally allowed Brunski to get in for her first round of the Moderna vaccine.

But for the Utah County Health Department, those openings less than halfway through the month are worrisome.

"It's definitely a concern for us in Utah County," said health department spokeswoman Aislynn Tolman Hill.

She described how vaccine clinics are slowing down. At first, thousands of appointment slots would fill up in less than five minutes after being released, Hill explained. But now, it can take a day or two — or more — before the same number of appointments are spoken for.

"We're seeing kind of a trend over the last week/week-and-a-half, of those that are 70 and over, especially, not really signing up so much," Hill said.

It's a complete opposite picture from the long lines Utah County recently experienced at Shopko, when hundreds rushed over at once to get their vaccine dose.

"We don't have a hard answer on, why is that happening," Hill explained. "We anticipate that we might be getting close to the end of hitting that 70 and over population, for those that want the COVID vaccine."

She said they don't how many over 70 chose not to get vaccinated, but added that they know there are individuals with a vaccine hesitancy.

Reasons they may not be signing up, she indicated, can range from those who had COVID recently needing to wait longer, to just wanting to wait and see how it pans out with others, to not wanting the vaccine at all.

The vaccine will never go wasted, Hill said.

But with two weeks to go before the next phase rolls out and an expected 6,000 to 7,000 doses arriving each of those weeks to administer, Hill talked about how they are looking for ways to find more people amid dwindling clinics.

"It has been a challenge," Hill said. "And one of the things we've done is we're trying to target — certainly the 70 and over population — but also those kind of support systems: Family, friends, loved ones, any church systems that they might be involved with."

Hill said they want to reach everyone who might have a connection to someone over 70 in Utah County. She urged them to reach out to that person to check on them and ask if that person signed up for the vaccine.

If that person hasn't, Hill suggested helping sign that person up.

At Nomi's clinic on Friday, a healthcare worker said they were able to fill all 500 appointment spots. They'll be offering 700 more on Saturday.

Brunski didn't need any convincing to get that vaccine. She's a retired nurse.

After weeks of waiting, Melick is glad half of her mother's vaccination is finally complete.

"She's older, she's more vulnerable population," Melick said. "So, it was important."

Click here to sign up for a vaccine appointment at a vaccination clinic in Utah County. Text "UC Health" to 888777 to stay up to date on appointment openings and availability with the next phase of the rollout in Utah County.