Summit County asks residents to register for vaccine notifications
Emails, calls will notify residents when it’s their turn to make an appointment
The Summit County Health Department is asking residents to enter their contact information into an online database that officials will use to contact people when it’s time for them to be vaccinated, part of the county’s unprecedented effort to administer tens of thousands of vaccine doses to protect the community from COVID-19.
“The list will be used to notify individuals when vaccine registration opens,” spokesperson Derek Siddoway wrote in an email to The Park Record. “… Our goal is to make the vaccine available and accessible to any resident who wishes to receive it in the coming months.”
The website is summitcountyhealth.org/vaccine.
Members of the general public are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine; this list establishes a means to contact residents when public mass vaccinations begin, which officials hope will occur in February.
In coming weeks, health care workers at the county vaccination site at Quinn’s Junction will continue to vaccinate people who are in high-priority groups including first responders.
According to state officials, the first members of the general public eligible to receive the vaccine will be people 70 years or older, as well as those with certain medical conditions.
The state has yet to specify which underlying medical conditions will first qualify patients to receive the vaccine, Siddoway indicated.
The county’s registration form is simple — it requests a name, email address, phone number and zip code. It does not ask for a person’s medical history or age, which Siddoway said allows the county to avoid collecting sensitive medical data.
He said the county will attempt to contact each person on the list before the county starts inoculating members of the general public early next month.
Everyone who registers using the online form, regardless of their place in line for a vaccine, may receive an email in the coming weeks with directions for residents 70 years and older to register for a vaccine appointment.
They will also receive subsequent emails when different priority groups become eligible for vaccination.
Siddoway said the list will be a useful tool to disseminate information and a way for members of the public to know where they are in the process to receive a vaccine.
Not everybody has easy access to email, though, and Siddoway said the county is contemplating also using grassroots efforts with churches and community groups to get the word out.
The county began vaccinations about three weeks ago, officials said, starting with the highest priority groups and using the limited supply the state has sent along. Officials have said they are requesting as much of the vaccine as they are allowed and that the state was doling out doses proportionally based on census data.
The county’s mass vaccination campaign faces a tall task, attempting to create the capacity to inoculate every county resident who chooses to receive the vaccine — with two doses. The vaccine manufactured by Moderna, which is the one the county has received, requires two doses taken 28 days apart.
According to census data, there are more than 30,000 county residents 20 and older — the Food and Drug Administration granted the Moderna drug emergency use authorization in individuals 18 and over — meaning the county may be required to establish the capacity to deliver as many as 60,000 shots.
Officials predict that as more vaccine becomes available, the burden on the county to distribute it will lessen as primary care physicians and pharmacies begin to administer it.
The vaccine cannot be stored for long periods outside of a temperature-controlled environment, so it is critical that enough people arrive at the vaccine site to receive the doses that have been prepared for the day, officials have said.
Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough has said the county envisions establishing a testing site at Richardson Flat capable of inoculating 1,000 people per day. The county has not received nearly enough vaccine for such an effort yet, however.
The county recently opened a drive-thru vaccine site at Utah Film Studios for members of the highest priority groups including health care workers.
Contacting the vaccine recipients and coordinating the appointments are two crucial logistical hurdles, but the initiative also relies on scores of volunteers and reassigned county staffers.
Bullough estimated it would take about 60 people to staff the Richardson Flat inoculation site, and that the county anticipated having two or three teams of 60 people each to ensure a smooth operation.
Health officials nationwide have feared that many members of the public will hesitate to seek inoculation. Bullough has said that at least 70% of the local population must gain immunity to the disease through vaccination or, possibly, prior exposure to the virus, to achieve the herd immunity that would significantly lessen the pandemic’s impacts.
He strongly cautioned members of high-priority groups to seek a vaccine while they are able, saying that if they decline the opportunity now, they will have to wait until everyone is eligible, which could be months away.
Bullough has also recently expressed skepticism at the efficacy of public health messaging in changing human behavior, though he did not indicate the Health Department would stop those efforts.
At Monday’s Board of Health meeting, he juxtaposed the relative ineffectiveness of nutrition messaging with the dietary changes that might come after a family member has a heart attack.
He suggested an effective messaging campaign would tie the vaccine to the sorts of pre-pandemic events that are popular in Summit County.
“If you want to have a normal county fair, a normal Oakley Rodeo, a normal Sundance, here’s what you need to do: You need to get vaccinated,” Bullough said.
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The CDC recommends vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public settings in Summit County, a step backward precipitated by the rise in cases tied to the more-transmissible Delta variant.