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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Thursday COVID-19 Update: Comorbidity Vaccine Eligibility Effective Immediately

Governor Spencer Cox announced Thursday new vaccine eligibility for Utahns over the age of 16 with certain comorbidities, effective immediately. 


Initially expected on March 1st, individuals 16 and older with comorbidities like cancer and chronic heart disease are now immediately eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. A full list of eligible comorbidities can be found here.


Currently, in addition to individuals with comorbidities, all Utahns over the age of 65 are also eligible for the vaccine. Governor Cox announced that one week after opening vaccinations to people between the ages of 65 and 69, 29% of those individuals in the state have received their first dose.


Vaccine locations will not be asking for proof of comorbidities, but Governor Cox urged Utahns to not act selfishly and resist the urge to jump the line. Cox said those who lie will be taking a vaccine away from someone who is more vulnerable to serious illness or even death if they contract the virus.


“We are going for speed over accuracy,” he said. “That’s a choice we had to make, which means that it is possible for people to lie about whether or not they have one of these underlying health conditions. We’re not going to require a doctor’s note to do this, but I’m pleading with you, please, please, please do not jump ahead in line ... If you jump ahead in line, that means there is someone else who won’t get the vaccine as soon as they could have and it’s very possible that they could end up hospitalized or even worse, dying. You can look yourself in the mirror, you can sleep well at night by knowing that you didn’t cheat the system, that you were willing to give it to those who needed it the most.”


As of Thursday, the FDA has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for people under the age of 18. Anyone who is 16 or 17 years old will have to find a vaccination location with the Pfizer vaccine in order to receive a dose.


Additionally, the Governor announced that vaccine appointments will no longer be necessary for individuals who are currently eligible for the vaccine in their home county. 


People can still travel to another county to receive a vaccine, but Cox stressed that if you do, you must return to the same location as your first dose in order to receive your second dose.


“If you do get an appointment for your first dose of vaccine in another county, you have to go back to that county before your second dose,” said Cox. “Second doses are allocated based on the location where first doses are received, so it is absolutely critical that you always go back, not just to the same county, but to the same location to get your second dose as where you received your first dose.”


Governor Cox also announced that pending final federal approval, Utah will receive 20,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine early next week.


As of Thursday, over 660,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Utah.


The Utah Department of Health also reported 832 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. Summit County reported 26 and Wasatch County reported six.


The statewide rolling seven-day average for positive tests is now 723 per day.


Averages for the percent of positive laboratory tests have dropped slightly, with tests over tests now at 5.7% and people over people at 12.4%.


The Health Department says 221 people are currently hospitalized with the disease statewide and COVID-19 referral center ICUs are now 76.9% full.


11 additional deaths were also reported on Thursday, bringing the statewide death toll from the disease to 1,890. None of Thursday’s deaths were from either Summit or Wasatch Counties.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.