Summit County Health Director: Vaccine Is Great News, But Delivery Disappoints
Tuesday’s meeting of the Summit County Council of Governments heard that the recent news about the Covid Vaccine has been mixed.
County Health Director Rich Bullough said they have shown that they can distribute the vaccine. But the amount they have received has been disappointing.
Bullough said they’re doing the best they can. But he’s frustrated that the number of doses they have received are a fraction of what they were promised, and the supply will continue to be low.
He said they received 500 doses this week, and expect 300 next week. Bullough said he’s hoping for a steady supply of about 400 doses a week.
He said they have pre-registered some 3000 people for the vaccine. Those residents will receive notice of an appointed time to get the vaccine and then report to a distribution site, which now is the Utah Film Studio near Quinn’s Junction.
Bullough said that site can handle 300 shots a day, but with limitations there, they are looking for other locations.
He said there is some good news—that they have a vaccine on hand, less than a year after the pandemic slammed into Summit County, the nation, and the globe.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment for science and for this country. I recall a time when Chris Crowley and Carolyn Rose and I were sitting outside of my office last March, and speculating about when vaccines may be available. And we all agreed it would be well over a year. But here we are. And these vaccines were developed in record time. And they’re effective in a record way. It’s almost unheard of for a vaccine to be 95 percent effective.’
Bullough said they’ve got some challenges, with the optimistic expectations set at both the federal and the state level. He discussed the 100-day goal being set by the Administration being inaugurated on Wednesday.
“And even if you look at the optimistic forecasts of the Biden Administration—a 100 million doses the first 100 days. You do the math, a 100 million doses is 50 million people. We have 300 million people to vaccinate. A hundred days is three and a half months. You times 6 by three and a half months, we’re looking at 21 months. That’s something that we think is an optimistic target. I think we all need to step back and think about the expectations and the reality.”
Meanwhile, he noted, Governor Spencer Cox has prioritized the vaccine for non-hospital medical providers, then First Responders, teachers, and then residents 70 years or older. And there are reports, he said, that the Governor will extend that latter group to 65 and older, that taking effect on the 28th.
“I don’t want to be critical of this. But he is setting an expectation that we’re caught in the middle of, and we’re unable to deliver on. And so that’s gonna be one of our challenges. That said, he’s setting that expectation in the hope that the federal government will stick true to their word that they issued last week, and that is that distribution will only partly be determined by population by state. And another factor is the ability to deliver vaccine. We are demonstrating our ability. We’re delivering all of our vaccines. We’re gonna be in a situation next week where, week after week after week, we run out of vaccines before we get our next shipment. That is the intent of the governor, so that he can then say to the feds, “We have the capacity. Give us the vaccines.”
He told the local mayors that leaves them with a challenge.
“As local government, and as elected officials, you’re gonna be caught in the middle of explaining to your colleagues and you communities that we don’t have the vaccines to an adequate extent, to meet what is being described publicly by our governor’s office.”
Pre-registration for the vaccines have to be done through the CDC’s website known as VAMS, or “Vaccine Administration Management Site.” County Council Member Roger Armstrong said working through that site can be “really clunky”, and recalled that his wife, Beth, director of the People’s Health Clinic, has helped some elderly residents through the process.
Deputy County Manager Janna Young said they also have retained phone volunteers to help residents through a process that can be lengthy. Citizens have to provide information off their Medicare card, as well as a list of their current prescriptions.
County officials also discussed what they’re doing to keep in touch with their 70-plus-aged residents, by phone or by e-mail.
Bullough said at this stage they are registering some 70-or-older citizens, in groups of 20 per clinic.
He said they have also received some shipments designated for ‘second doses”—300 doses last week and 200 this week.
He said the Park City Medical Center has agreed to take charge of those second doses, starting next week.