SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Health has submitted its plans for a statewide COVID-19 vaccine campaign to the CDC.
The submission deadline is Friday, October 16th.
The vaccination director for the Utah Department of Health says our state is ready to distribute when a vaccine is ready.
“This will be the largest vaccination campaign we have ever had,” said Rich Lakin, state immunization director. “We try to do it in an effective way, but try to do it as soon as possible, which makes it difficult.”
Utah COVID-19 Vaccine Plan is a 46-page document detailing how Utahans can be vaccinated once a vaccine is approved.
Lakin said having the vaccine would dictate the speed of the launch.
The CDC has told states to prepare for vaccination by Nov. 1, and Utah will be ready.
The biggest complication, Lakin said, is that no one knows about the vaccine itself because nothing has been approved.
“We do everything we need to plan, but we only have a little bit of information about the vaccine itself,” he said.
His colleagues at the CDC told Lakin on Thursday that the first doses could come at any time between mid-November and January.
Initially, the dose will be limited. A team of physicians, pharmacists, and other health care workers are working in the last month to develop a vaccination prioritization plan.
The four major hospitals in the Wasatch Front with the highest number of health care workers and COVID-19 patients will first get vaccinated to vaccinate health care workers, and other major groups. Those hospitals are University of Utah Hospital and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.
“The main thing people need to remember is the vaccine that will bring a response,” Lakin said. “If we have a limited vaccine, we have a limited vaccine to whom we can give that response. If we start getting a moderate amount of vaccine, we can expand the distribution of the vaccine.”
His best guess is when the wider distribution could happen?
“Perhaps in the summer when the public can start receiving the vaccine,” the vaccination director said.
Where will the Utahs get it?
“The public will have the option to go to a private physician if they have a vaccine, or they can go to the pharmacy,” Lakin said. “They can also go to their local health department.”
The state is working closely with 13 public health districts within Utah to develop their plans.
Lakin said everyone involved in the distribution of a vaccine needs to be strategic and patient to ensure that limited supplies are not wasted.
“We are confident that it will run as smoothly as possible, but I think we all need to understand that there will be bumps in the road,” he said.
For those who think the vaccine has been rushed or cannot be trusted, the vaccination director said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC should approve the vaccine before it comes out.
“That’s the gold standard,” Lakin said. “It meets the standard that the vaccine is safe, and it is time to kill the vaccine.”
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