Utah is nearing an 80 percent first-dose vaccination rate for people who are 70 or older.
As of Tuesday, the state is just short of 190,000 first doses given to individuals age 70 and older. The graph below shows the dramatic difference between those 70+, 80+ and all others:
So why is Utah vaccinating so well in these age ranges?
Besides the fact that those age groups were available early is that Utah has reached the 90-percent range for vaccinating residents in long-term care facilities.
Local and state health officials, as well as state leaders, have pointed to that as the reason the vaccination percentage is so high for those 70 and up.
“I think we're at staff around 70 percent [vaccinated] and residents in the low 90s, which is really great,” said Allie Spangler, the chief operating officer for the Utah Health Care Association.
Long-term care facilities and those 70+ with major risk factors for the coronavirus were put at the forefront of the initial rollout of vaccinations.
Spangler, who knows these facilities well, gave an overview of that rollout.
"At first, we had a little bit of hesitancy and saw a smaller uptake than we were hoping for on the staff side, but as we were able to educate about the safety and the efficacy and push the importance of these vaccines, we've seen a great uptake," she said.
Not only does this mean that Utah statistics look really good, but Spangler pointed out that it's also encouraging for the residents.
“It's given a lot of hope to these facilities and the residents that live in those facilities that this is another step that they can take to try and get back to normal,” she said. “For the last year, they've been limited on what they can do — not being able to have visitors… not being able to go as freely as they normally were.”
For facilities like Solstice Senior Living in Sandy, that vaccination effort is still going on, even today.
The facility hasn't received its first doses of the vaccine yet because, technically, it is an independent living facility.
“All of our residents are over the age of 70,” Solstice spokeswoman Stephanie Barrick said. “They have been waiting for this day since the vaccine was available.”
The population of the facility is all 70 years old and up, but they haven't gotten the vaccine yet because a lot of them are not able to transport themselves.
“A lot of them can’t leave the building, and due to that, we were able to get the clinic to come here,” Barrick said, adding that this was such an important step “because we don’t want to lose anybody, and we do have a very vulnerable population, and it was scary at first people didn’t know… There wasn’t a lot of information coming out.”
For residents of that facility and others over the age of 70, getting vaccinated means getting their life back and making it a little better.
“Just excited. They can have their family around and be able to see friends and go out to the grocery store, and go shopping and not feel like they're putting themselves at risk,” Barrick said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel for them.”
For more information on vaccination statistics, go to: coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and click on the "Vaccines" tab.