NewsCoronavirusLocal Coronavirus News


Utah vaccine coordinator's biggest worries: Supply now and demand later

Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 00:38:39-04

The man coordinating vaccines for the Utah Department of Health has two problems. One is happening now, and the other is almost certain to happen in the coming weeks.

The first problem: Supply.

Rich Lakin, the director of the Utah Immunization Program, says Utah's network of county health departments, pharmacies, hospitals and other providers can administer 300,000 shots a week, but the latest rolling average shows Utah receiving about half that.

"That's 1.2 million [doses] we could have done in a month," Lakin said.

READ: More Utahns sign up for COVID-19 vaccine as eligibility expands

With supply almost certain to grow and the state's ability to control the logistics of delivery, problem number one will eventually be a memory.

But problem number two isn't the kind of thing you can manufacture or plan your way out of.

That problem: Demand.

Right now, there are plenty of Utahns who can't wait to get a vaccine.

LINKS: Here's how to register for a COVID-19 vaccination in Utah

Eventually, the only unvaccinated people will be those who don't want it.

"We've got to ensure people don't have vaccine hesitancy, and that they realize the vaccine is the way to get rid of this and see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Lakin.

In the latest poll released by the Pew Research Center, 30 percent of Americans do not plan to get a vaccine.

Even if all 70 percent of us who want the shot actually follow through, that doesn't reach the threshold the nation's epidemiologists say is necessary for herd immunity.

That means more than just leaving 30 percent of people vulnerable.

It means giving the virus plenty of Petri dishes where it can evolve into potentially more harmful or contagious variants that could potentially jump back to the vaccinated.

READ: First known Brazil variant COVID-19 case reported in Utah

Lakin's plea: "Take a step up and care for your neighbor and care for other people."