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Health, Science & Environment

Utah Has Used Most of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Inventory. But Federally Partnered Pharmacies Haven’t.

A photo of a covid-19 vaccine and syringe.
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iStockphoto
Gov. Spencer Cox held his first monthly PBS Utah press conference.

By the end of this week, Utah will have used all of its first dose COVID-19 vaccines that are more than seven days old, according to Gov. Spencer Cox.

Local health departments, hospitals and Community Nursing Services have administered more than 90% of their vaccines that they’ve had for longer than a week. Cox issued an executive order earlier in January that required medical providers to use up all their doses within a week, or the state would redistribute them.

Cox said hospitals are now giving their unused doses to local health departments, and those should be administered in the next few days.

“Our partners know there is no reason to waste a vaccine,” he said. “Figure out a way. I would rather have it in the arm of a healthy 25-year-old than being thrown away.”

But pharmacies that got the vaccine directly from the federal government are having a much slower rollout. They’re in charge of vaccinating long term care facilities. Cox said last week those pharmacies promised to finish vaccinating facilities by Jan. 23. The new estimated date, Cox said Thursday, is Jan. 28.

Pharmacies working with federal partners have only used 17% of their first doses that are more than a week old, according to figures from the state’s Department of Health. That means an estimated 26,000 first doses are still unused.

Cox said the state plans to step in to fix that.

“We are working right now very closely with them this week to get those extra doses back and redistribute those to our local health departments so we can get those in the arms of those 70-years-old or older,” he said.

Overall, nearly 200,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Utah. That includes both first and second doses.

Healthcare workers, long term care facility residents, teachers and Utahns over 70 are currently eligible to get the vaccine.

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