The Summit County Public Health Department receives about 350 COVID-19 vaccines a week. That may change in the months ahead as more companies come online. But for now, there's a pecking order that will reflect state and CDC guidelines.
Frontline workers such as medical and emergency response personnel have received or are in line to receive vaccinations. The next group identified by the state's guidelines will be teachers and the elderly. These folks will be vaccinated as the supply allows. One group of frontline employees, though, have not made it onto the priority list yet.
Summit County Public Health Director Rich Bullough said those working in other frontline positions such as grocery stores and other essential businesses are a high-risk group because of their constant contact with the general public. But he does not have an answer for when they'll be in line to get the vaccine. He said they are following the state priority guidelines.
"The limiting factor still, and there's been a fair amount of discussion about essential workers, but the limiting factor still is the availability of vaccine. I do anticipate that when vaccines become much more available than they are now, we will be having conversations about those individuals and essential workers and exactly how do we address that. I think that's perfectly appropriate."
Governor Spencer Cox has set a goal of fully immunizing a prioritized group of Utahn's by the end of February. They include all health care providers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, public and tribal health frontline workers, K-12 teachers and school staff, and adults older than 70. This group represents more than 400,000 people. He said the 13 public health departments throughout the state have already vaccinated tens of thousands of health care workers and first responders. The executive order requires compliance to this prioritization list, including not giving a vaccine to someone who has tested positive within 90 days. There is also a requirement that all vaccines are used within seven days or returned for distribution elsewhere.
Bullough said he supports the Governor's order and asks people to be patient. The County will continue to get the vaccines into arms within the required seven days. As KPCW has reported, school districts are in line to receive vaccinations this week.
"Right now, we are looking at about 1200, roughly faculty and staff, at the schools. And on a good week, we're getting 400 doses into Summit County. And we're averaging, for example, I think in two weeks our forecast is only 300 doses. And so, at that rate, it obviously takes a significant amount of time to get people vaccinated. And then we're still trying to get through the non-hospital medical providers and first responders, and then you layer on top of that 70 plus. You know the math doesn't add up."
This spring, he said they'll move the distribution point to Richardson Flat, where they'll be able to deliver 1,000 vaccines a day.
"We're going to have increased production of vaccines. And I believe we're going to have multiple new vaccines coming online. So, this summer, hopefully, beginning in March, April, May, and then building into midsummer, we'll have greater numbers of vaccines available."
Registering for the vaccine could be difficult based on the CDC system being used by the county. It requires each registrant to have their own email. And it requires internet access to get in line for a vaccine. Bullough said getting everyone vaccinated will be a community collaboration."
We need to make sure that we work through systems, whether or not those systems are aging services, senior centers, Meals on Wheels, faith-based organizations, or others. We need to identify people within the systems and make sure that because a lot of this is going to be word of mouth and there is no doubt that people are going to be missed."
For information about vaccines, call the county health line at 435-333-1500.