Bullough Predicts Vaccinations Will Open to General Population of Summit by End of March
The Summit County Board of Health heard Monday that there is continued good news, on a number of fronts, in getting vaccinations to the people.
County Health officials say they’re meeting their goals in serving the senior population. Vaccines are making their way into stores. And Health Director Rich Bullough says he thinks vaccination appointments will be available to the general population within the month.
Bullough told the Board of Health that he’s urging citizens to get vaccinated if they have the chance.
“I don’t want to pressure anybody directly, but part of the way that we are going to normalize, as we move on in this response and in this pandemic, is to be vaccinated,” he said. “I just really encourage people, everyone, if you have an opportunity to be vaccinated, be vaccinated. These are safe vaccines. They’ve been proven safe and effective. And that includes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that will be coming into Summit County and the state of Utah this week.”
He said that Summit County has the second-highest rate of vaccinations in the state, behind only San Juan County.
County Nursing Director Derek Moss reported that 19.2% of Summit County residents have received their first dose, and 8% have received their second.
He said they had a goal of vaccinating over 80 percent of the 70-years-and-over population by the end of February. They beat that goal, having services 81%. And all residents over 65 years of age have been invited to register and set up appointments.
One continued problem, reported by Board Members Doug Evans and Chris Ure, is that registering online for the vaccinations can still be a trial for seniors in the county who may not be tech-savvy nor have e-mail addresses. Moss said the county has a vaccine telephone helpline set up at 435-333-0050.
Moss added that they’ve received 7,250 doses as of Monday. They’ve administered about 6,000 of those, and the rest will be given by the end of the week. He added they have over 3,700 appointments set up through the federal government’s online VAMS system.
The health department announced some other changes to procedure as well. Up to now, second doses had been given at the Park City Hospital. As of Tuesday, March 2, the county will be setting up a second lane at the Utah Film Studio across the road to administer those.
Also, about a month ago, the county announced it was shifting its priority for shots to the 70-plus population, and was no longer registering first-level groups such as teachers, first responders and non-hospital health workers.
Moss said now they will be shifting back to the Phase One groups to catch anyone who didn’t get vaccinated.
“But we’ve touched base with all the school nurses, superintendents, the chief of police, with the sheriff, fire departments, trying to make sure that nobody who should have been vaccinated under the Phase One guidelines were missed,” he said. “And so we’ve had a team from the Health Department making phone calls, e-mails, trying to make sure that we’ve covered those bases.”
Bullough said a supply of doses from the federal government will possibly appear this week at big-box stores such as Walmart. One board member reported they’re already available at Smith’s.
Bullough said the state is expecting 250,000 doses by the end of March.
“I would anticipate that we should all be gearing up for opening to the general public in March,” he said. “I think it’s gonna happen sooner than we think it is going to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the middle of March. I’d be very surprised if it went beyond the end of March.”