SALT LAKE CITY, UT (STL.News) Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox Friday announced teachers and staff members in Utah’s K-12 schools will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning the week of January 11. Utah adults 70 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning the week of January 18.
Gov. Cox set a goal of fully immunizing all health care providers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, public and tribal health front-line workers, K-12 teachers and school staff, and adults older than 70 by the end of February. Approximately 412,000 Utah residents from these population groups are expected to be vaccinated.
School districts have been working with their local health departments and other providers in their areas on plans for vaccinating their staff. Districts and administrators will communicate directly with their employees on how, when, and where to be vaccinated.
“We know there is tremendous demand among teachers for the vaccine, and we are thrilled to be able to accelerate the timeline for immunizing teachers,” Gov. Cox said. “There’s no part of our society that COVID-19 has impacted more significantly than education. Getting the vaccine out to teachers and school staff will provide stability in our schools and improve the educational experience of our students.”
Utah’s 13 local health departments have already vaccinated tens of thousands of Utah health care workers and first responders, and will also be responsible for vaccinating older adults. Older adults or their caretakers should contact their local health department late next week to learn about how to make an appointment.
“Providing vaccines for these additional groups is exciting, but it is important to manage expectations,” said Rich Saunders, Utah Department of Health executive director. “We are still receiving a limited number of doses each week, and demand is likely to outpace supply initially. Not everyone will be able to schedule an appointment next week, but we ask them to be patient and keep trying. We will have enough doses to eventually vaccinate everyone in these groups.”
Originally, teachers and school staff were anticipated to receive vaccinations later in January, and older adults in mid-February. Based on current vaccine administration progress, anticipated supply over the next several weeks, the important role schools play in society, and the severity of disease older adults experience, Utah’s Unified Command group recommended accelerating the vaccination timeline.
Subsequent populations being considered for vaccination priority include prioritization by additional age groups, residents with certain underlying medical conditions, and certain residents who live in congregate settings.
The governor’s executive order describes vaccine eligibility and vaccine provider requirements, including not administering the vaccine to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days, administering each COVID-19 vaccine within seven days of receiving the vaccine; and reporting data each day by 6:59 a.m.
It also states that a vaccine provider that does not comply with the Order may be subject to a reduced COVID-19 vaccine distribution or no distribution for future distribution periods. A COVID-19 vaccine not used within seven days of distribution is subject to redistribution.
The Order states the Utah Department of Health shall coordinate with local health departments to establish procedures to offer monoclonal antibodies to residents of long-term care facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19.