SALT LAKE CITY — As federal leaders meet in Washington, D.C., local and state leaders are preparing for federal guidance on booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are well positioned in our state to be able to respond and be able to offer a booster dose,” said Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Health.
As of Tuesday, the state is eyeing federal guidelines for booster shots very carefully as intensive care units and hospital space continue to become more and more of a concern.
The Biden administration is expected to issue guidance that Americans should get a 3rd dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines eight months following their second dose of the vaccination.
“I don’t think anyone would have envisioned that we would be in the position that we are in,” Hudachko said. “In terms of the case counts that were seeing, the people that are filling up the hospitals that we are seeing.”
While what is best for each vaccine and when will be up to the federal partners, the State of Utah will handle the best way to roll out those third doses.
“Certainly, evaluations of clinical trials and efficacy of the vaccine is one of those areas,” Hudachko said about the federal rollout. "In terms of being able to respond quickly and get doses out to Utah residents, we rely heavily on ourselves.”
Utah has about 1,000 vaccine providers across the state, from pharmacies to clinics, local health departments to healthcare providers.
As a vaccine distributor, Intermountain Healthcare issued this statement to FOX 13:
“Health officials around the world have been investigating the potential need for an additional dose of COVID vaccine for the general population, but to date we have heard no official guidance for U.S. healthcare providers. At Intermountain Healthcare, we continue to focus on helping individuals receive the first and second dose of the COVID vaccine – and most recently a third dose in the primary series for those that are immunocompromised – and would encourage anyone with questions to talk to their healthcare provider.
"The comments about potential plans of an additional dose at the federal level demonstrate that the vaccine is being very closely monitored, both for safety and effectiveness. The combination of vaccination with masking, social distancing, and staying home when sick is our best defense against this disease."
-Tamara Sheffield, MD, MPH, Intermountain Healthcare
The State of Utah is also already offering third shots to those who are immunocompromised, but these are not being called booster shots — just a third dose.
“Data show immunocompromised didn’t really mount enough of an immune response to actually be boosted,” Hudachko said. "It's not being referred to as a booster dose with those individuals, but it's being referred to as a third dose to really jump start that immune response.”
The state advises the public to speak with their healthcare provider to figure out what the best option is for their situation.