Only 33% of Summit County residents have had a booster. Officials want that number to increase as COVID surges. | ParkRecord.com
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Only 33% of Summit County residents have had a booster. Officials want that number to increase as COVID surges.

Case spike underscores ‘importance of being fully protected’

Toria Barnhart
The Park Record
Cassy Weeks administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient in January 2021.
Park Record file photo

With the surge of coronavirus cases in Summit County and the omicron variant running rampant, county health officials are urging residents to get boosted and help stop the spread.

Confirmed cases in the county since Dec. 23 have continued to exceed the previous single-day record of 79 set in January 2021. And although 85% of eligible people living in Summit County are fully vaccinated, only 33% of the population, or 12,346 people, have received a COVID-19 booster shot, according to nursing director Derek Moss.

There have been numerous days where case counts have exceeded 200 recently, and health officials hope that the increase, primarily caused by the more contagious omicron variant, will underscore the importance of receiving a booster or third dose for complete coverage.



“Having two doses is good, having a booster dose is kind of a better circumstance given the current omicron surge that we’re dealing with,” said Derek Siddoway, the communication and public engagement director for Summit County.

The Health Department took a two-step approach to vaccination efforts late last year when both the pediatric vaccine and booster shot were approved. While there was a push to get people boosted at clinics at all three county health facilities, Siddoway added that officials were primarily focused on providing first and second doses to children ahead of the holidays. In Summit County, 4,907 children aged 5 to 18 are fully vaccinated and 6,037 have received at least one dose.



Although there’s been a slight decline in demand for the vaccine or booster since the holidays, Moss said the clinics have still remained fairly busy. But the demand hasn’t always been steady. When case counts were lower throughout most of the fall — there were no more than 35 cases a day in October, for instance — some residents may have felt they didn’t need the booster.

“It may be that people felt they were covered with two doses,” Siddoway said. “Originally when there were discussions about a booster dose, some of the language out there was that it may not be necessary for everyone to get.”

There are a number of other reasons some residents have forgone the booster despite being in favor of the vaccine, such as the possible side effects and recovery time that may come with the jab or simply that it’s a busy time of year.

But as Summit County officials anticipate a rise in positive cases over the next month, they are encouraging eligible residents to receive the booster to provide as much protection as possible, including against future surges and variants.

There are no plans to offer a mass vaccination clinic for the booster shot, but the Health Department has openings five days a week at the Park City location near Quinn’s Junction and three days a week in Kamas and Coalville.

The county is also partnering with the nonprofit People’s Health Clinic to help reach Hispanic residents, as well as others facing barriers in getting vaccinated. There are also interpreters at clinics to prevent anyone from feeling discouraged or intimidated if English is their second language. Flyers with information about the vaccine and how to receive a booster have also been translated into Spanish to reach a broader population.

County health officials also encourage residents who still have hesitations about the vaccine or booster to speak with their health care provider.

“We recognize that the vaccine isn’t for everyone but it is for a large percentage and the majority of people,” Siddoway said. “But if people have concerns, they should talk to their primary care physician and see what type of vaccine might be best for them.”

With the reimplementation of a countywide mask mandate last Friday, health officials hope more residents will opt to get boosted. They believe the vaccines, combined with wearing masks and getting tested when showing symptoms, will help community cases decline.

Health officials point to some studies that highlight how omicron is more infectious than the measles to emphasize how easy it is to catch. Even individuals who are fully vaccinated can contract the virus, but receiving both doses helps ensure a less severe reaction.

“We hope that this surge highlights the importance of being fully protected,” Siddoway said. “Even though we’ve been in this two years and we’re all ready to do something else besides COVID, we hope that people understand the reasons we have vaccines and the need for a booster given the current surge.”

Individuals in the 50-64 age group have been the most willing to receive the vaccine, according to Moss, with 12,279 receiving at least one dose and 9,488 being fully vaccinated. Those ages 19-24 and 65-69 have been the least willing to get the jab with 2,300 people in each group completing an initial vaccine series.

The Health Department encourages fully vaccinated individuals who haven’t received the booster to take the extra step to more fully protect themselves and others.

“Our dream or our hope is that we can get to 100% (boosted),” Siddoway said. “Now we realize that we won’t get to 100% but as close as we can is what we’re shooting for. We’re ready to serve when anyone makes the decision to get a booster.”

Utah has reported 706,183 positive cases, 28,414 hospitalizations and 3,907 deaths as of Monday. A total of 4.6 million vaccines have been administered.

For more information about boosters or COVID-19 testing in Summit County, visit summitcountyhealth.org or call 435-333-1500.


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