Thursday COVID-19 Update: New Vaccine Eligibility to Start March 1st
Governor Spencer Cox announced at his weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday new vaccine eligibility groups starting March 1st.
Thanks to a projected increase in weekly vaccine doses being sent to Utah, individuals age 65 and older, as well as adults with serious comorbidities like organ transplant recipients, cancer patients, and others who are immunocompromised will be eligible to receive the vaccine next month.
According to the Utah Department of Health, this is a group of approximately 400,000 people over the age of 18 across the state who will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
Governor Cox stressed these groups cannot schedule a vaccine appointment today. In order to not overload the vaccine scheduling system, these groups of people should not contact their local health department to schedule a vaccine until March 1st.
“Please do not contact your local health department right now,” Cox said. ”This is not eligibility today, it’s eligibility on March 1st. We know there will be questions about some of these subcategories, we will try to answer those questions. Again, I can’t emphasize this enough: please, please, please know, don’t go and schedule right now. We are not opening scheduling right now for these categories, but just know that you are next on the list, again, starting on March 1st.”
The Governor added that additional clarifications on vaccine eligibility will be published in the coming weeks.
Previously, only healthcare workers, first responders, school staff, and individuals over the age of 70 were eligible to receive a vaccine.
The complete list of eligible comorbidities can be found here.
Governor Cox said starting in March, Utah could be receiving 195,000 vaccine doses early in the month thanks to increased production and the expected approval of more vaccine variants in the near future.
“I want to be very clear that these are just projections, but they’re important projections because it allows us to start planning for huge increases in March and April,” said Cox. “So, to go from 33,000 a week to 130 to 150 to 200,000 doses per week in April just changes the ballgame for all of us and that’s what we are planning for, that’s what we are preparing for.”
With 362,701 total vaccine doses administered as of Thursday, more vaccines have been given statewide than people who have tested positive for the disease since the start of the pandemic, which is just over 351,000.
The Health Department announced 1,273 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. Summit County reported 27 new cases to Wasatch County’s 10.
Thursday’s numbers bring the state’s rolling seven-day average for positive tests to 1,264, the lowest since mid-October of last year. The rolling seven-day average for positive laboratory tests is now 16.5%, also the lowest since mid-October 2020.
Both averages in Summit and Wasatch Counties have also seen similar declines.
365 Utahns are currently hospitalized with the disease, up 13 from Wednesday. Statewide referral center ICUs are currently 78.3% full.
The Health Department also announced 12 additional COVID-19 deaths, seven men and five women, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,697. None of Thursday’s deaths were from either Summit or Wasatch Counties.