Second phase of COVID vaccinations in Utah will prioritize people 75 and older |

Second phase of COVID vaccinations in Utah will prioritize people 75 and older

Older residents are more likely to suffer the worst health effects of the disease

People 75 and older will be prioritized in the second phase of Utah’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the state Department of Health announced Monday.

Officials expect the second phase to begin as early as mid-February, according to a news release.

“We have seen older adults bear the most severe burden of disease in our state, and across the nation,” said Rich Saunders, interim executive director of the Department of Health. “These individuals are far more likely to be hospitalized, to need intensive care, and to pass away from COVID-19. Ensuring these members of our community receive the vaccine as early as possible will save lives and help reduce the burden on our hospitals.”

Officials are still determining which groups will be included in subsequent waves of the second phase. According to the release, the groups could include other age groups and people with underlying medical conditions. The state has decided not to prioritize people who work in certain industries, such as essential workers, in the second phase.

“Focusing on age will do more to reduce infections and alleviate hospitalizations than any other category of individuals as we continue to administer vaccinations,” said Gov.-elect Spencer Cox. “I’m very supportive of this change and know it will save lives.”

Many details regarding the implementation of the second phase of vaccines are yet to be decided, the release indicated. However, officials expect that local health departments will administer doses during the early part of the second phase, while pharmacies and primary care providers will eventually also offer vaccines.

The ongoing first phase of the campaign includes health care workers, first responders, teachers and people who live and work in long-term care facilities.

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