© 2024 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
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.

Vaccine Hesitancy on Summit County's East Side Worries Health Officials

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

While Summit County’s COVID-19 infection rates are faring better than in many other areas of Utah, the county health board still faces the problem of vaccine hesitancy, especially on the rural east side of the county.


The Summit County Health Board on Monday had a lengthy discussion about what’s causing that problem and how to deal with it.


Chairman Chris Cherniak said that on the east side, 70% of residents aged 12 and over have been vaccinated. But he said there are problems with pockets of the population.


Health board member Doug Evans, a South Summit resident, said that only 16% of kids aged 12 to 15 on the East Side have been vaccinated.


Health Director Rich Bullough said that part of the problem is that residents of eastern Summit County are politically or socially more inclined to resist the vaccine. He said while the Park City School District supported distribution of the vaccine, North Summit and South Summit heard from parents who didn’t want the vaccines administered or promoted by the schools.


Summit County Health Board members, including Evans, said there have been rumors and other concerns about the long-term side effects of the vaccines.


“I think one of the things that I’ve talked to people, some people ‘Oh, we’re really concerned about long-term health effects.’ Well we know there are long-term health effects with kids not getting vaccinated. And some of them are very severe. These could last a lifetime. I mean there’s enough data out there now that we know what can happen to some of these kids.”


Board member Chris Ure, a Kamas resident, said he has neighbors who will get a flu shot voluntarily but won’t get a COVID-19 shot just because they feel the government has told them to.


Ure said they’re tired of a situation they say has become politicized.


“The problem is, you have a media that is one-sided, you have a government that is one-sided,” he said. “And we’re sitting here watching things and they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth. If you want to get my people involved in this deal, tell the media to shut up. And I’m being serious. We don’t need to see a count every day of the hospitalizations and the deaths. We don’t need to hear all this other stuff. Get the media out of our lives, and we’ll change our attitudes. Because that’s the number one thing and people are so sick and tired of it. I know we had a former president that bad-mouthed it up and down. But we have a president now who sits there and says this thing, but yet he turns around and does all these different things to contradict what he just told us to do. That’s what we see.”


Board member Ilyssa Golding posed a question to Ure about considering others who might be exposed to the virus.


“Has it occurred to anybody that by not getting vaccinated, you might cause harm to another person,” Golding said. “Is there any kind of groupthink of, ‘let’s do this for others even if we’re not that crazy about the idea.’ Does that resonate with people you know?”


Ure responded that it did not resonate with anyone he knew.


Watterson explained how he resolved the issue in his family.


“I used my kids as, like, leverage,” Watterson said. “I had twins just a year ago in the middle of all this. Being able to be around my babies without wearing a mask; I told my parents, ‘hey, you go get vaccinated, you won’t have to wear a mask around my kids anymore. You can hold your grandchildren without wearing a mask.’”


Phil Bondurant, who will succeed Bullough as health director later this year, said he thinks the start of school will likely improve vaccination rates. He said kids who are coming back from vacations want to get involved with extracurriculars like sports, clubs and dances will have more motivation to get a shot.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
Related Content