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Health, Science & Environment

Utah Receives Its First Shipments Of COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccine Arrival 5 Utah Valley Hospital.jpg
Courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare
Utah Valley Regional Hospital in Provo and the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City each received about 2,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and will begin vaccinating employees Wednesday afternoon.

Two Utah hospitals received their first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning.

Officials with Intermountain Healthcare said during a press conference Utah Valley Regional Hospital in Provo and the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City each received about 2,000 doses of the recently approved Pfizer vaccine. They will begin vaccinating employees Wednesday afternoon.

The two locations had been among the five hospitals chosen to receive the vaccine first, along with the Intermountain Medical Center, Dixie Regional Medical Center, and the University of Utah. Those hospitals are expecting to receive their first doses Tuesday or by the end of the week at the latest.

“This is a proud day for science and it's a proud day for medicine,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease specialist at Intermountain healthcare. “In 11 months, scientists have had a singular focus around the globe. We have all been focusing on SARS-CoV-2 and how to maintain the health of our communities. That focus, that dedication has now paid off with a vaccine that is both safe and effective.”

Dr. Kristin Dascomb, medical director of infection prevention at Intermountain Healthcare, said healthcare workers most at risk of COVID-19 exposure will receive the vaccine first, which includes doctors and nurses in intensive care units and staff who deal with COVID-related waste.

It will then go to other hospital staff, as well as potentially to workers at other hospitals who don't yet have vaccine access but who are treating COVID-19 patients.

Utah officials are expecting close to 155,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of December. Staff of long term care facilities, teachers and public health workers are also included in the first phase of vaccine distribution, followed by essential workers and people at high risk of serious complications from the virus.

Dascomb said she anticipates the general public could start receiving the vaccine as early as April and by July at the latest.

She said caregivers are not required to take it, but she expects about 70% of those eligible to do so initially and more later as understanding and acceptance of the vaccine develops.

And while some people may be skeptical of the vaccine, Stenehjem said the science is sound.

“I want to reassure everybody that our group of infectious disease physicians across Intermountain Healthcare have spent time with the data [on] this vaccine,” Stenehjem said. “We all feel that this vaccine is safe and effective. We feel that this vaccine needs to be deployed in our health care settings and in our communities as soon as possible.”

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