Nationwide delays could push back Utah’s vaccination process

FILE - A bottle of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is seen on a table before Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly received an injection Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nationwide COVID-19 vaccine delays could push back Utah’s vaccination timeline and affect when groups like teachers can receive it, state health officials said Wednesday.

Rich Lakin, immunization program manager for the state health department, said Utah has received about 40% fewer doses from the federal government than initially anticipated. The smaller number could also delay the vaccination process for healthcare workers and first responders, he said.

“There’s a large population of healthcare workers that we’d like to get through the vaccination before we move on,” Lakin told reporters. “We’re hoping that’ll occur by the end of the month of January… but the vaccine is going to drive the response.”

The federal government has said there is confusion among the states involving planning and training numbers and actual allocations, which are only provided the week prior to shipment.

Utah residents 75 and older are set to receive the vaccine in mid-February under the second phase of distribution. Other groups that will be prioritized in subsequent waves include people with underlying health conditions, those who live in group settings, and at-risk racial and ethnic communities.

There have been 23,970 doses administered in Utah, according to state data.

Intensive care units at Utah’s hospitals best equipped to treat COVID-19 patients reached 82.4% of capacity on Wednesday. There have been more than 271,000 reported virus cases in Utah and 1,256 known deaths related to the virus, according to state data.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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