In an effort to speed up Utah’s COVID-19 vaccination process, and hopefully led to the state receiving more doses of the vaccine, Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order regarding vaccine distribution on Friday.
“This virus does not sleep, this virus does not take weekends off and neither should we,” Cox said. “It is unacceptable to have vaccines sitting on the shelf. And moving forward, I assure you there will be no vaccine sitting on a shelf.”
The announcement includes plans to begin vaccinating Utah teachers and staffers at K-12 schools on Monday and to start vaccinating Utahns over the age of 70 on Jan. 18.
Utahns will sign-up to receive the vaccine through their local health department. By the end of February, Cox anticipates everyone over 70 and all teachers and staff who want a vaccine will have received one.
The next group will be Utahns over 65 and those with other comorbidities. To help reach herd immunity faster, those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, are not to be vaccinated because they should have some degree of antibodies.
Cox said local health departments should have a greater capacity to give the vaccine than the number of doses that will be available. This is the goal, so that vaccines do not sit on the shelf and so that Utah be able to increase the number of doses they are receiving, he said.
These updates regarding vaccine distribution come as state officials announce 3,793 new COVID cases and a rolling 7-day average of 3,051 cases. This is a positive rate of 32.7% percent. ICUS are over 90% full and officials announced 22 new deaths.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said this is the beginning of the post winter holiday spike and that despite the excitement over the vaccine, precautions are still essential.
“What's so frustrating is that we are so close,” Cox said “Knowing now that Grandma and Grandpa, anyone over the age of 70, over the next few weeks will be able to get their vaccine. Let's let's keep them alive during this time. We can do this for just a few more months.”