Summit County expects an increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses soon
Vaccine drive for seniors 70 and older will last through March, officials say
Summit County officials shared details about the county’s vaccination efforts during an online conversation Thursday, asking the public for patience and to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distance while the vaccination campaign works to inoculate residents.
Health Director Rich Bullough shared some optimistic news about the vaccine supply, that the county would be receiving nearly double the amount of doses in coming weeks than anticipated.
That, coupled with the end of the vaccination period for teachers and first responders, will allow the county to dedicate its efforts to the thousands of older residents who are some of the most susceptible to the virus.
But that timeline, while accelerated, still stretches weeks into the future, with Bullough estimating that it would take at least through March to deliver the first dose of the vaccine to residents 70 and older.
• Vaccine registration can be found at summitcountyhealth.org/vaccine/. Residents must register online to receive a vaccine, though county staffers can work with individuals who need help navigating the online process.
• Summit County’s COVID-19 hotline, which can answer vaccine-related questions, can be reached at 435-333-0050 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• Those eligible to receive a vaccine, including residents 70 and older, should look for an email from email@example.com, which will include a link to schedule an appointment.
• There are more than 3,500 seniors registered to receive a vaccine, so it may be weeks before all seniors receive an invitation to schedule a vaccine appointment.
• County staffers will call seniors to help them navigate the online sign-up portal. They ask seniors to have their insurance information at the ready, as well as a list of their medications and a pen and paper.
Source: Summit County
“We do not have enough vaccines. And that, ultimately, has led to a lot of frustration,” Bullough said. “… We are performing very well here and we have the capacity to perform much, much better. We just need the vaccines.”
Bullough also addressed two controversial uses of the county’s vaccine supply: inoculating residents of other counties and second-home owners who are staying in the Park City area during the pandemic.
Bullough said recently that 1/3 of the vaccines the county has administered have gone to people who work here but live elsewhere.
Bullough indicated Thursday that the policy of many local health departments in the state to inoculate residents of other counties was a net win for Summit County, clarifying that more county residents had been inoculated elsewhere than non-Summit County residents had at the Quinn’s Junction site.
“We ran some data recently and, in fact, Summit County has benefited from that policy,” he said. “More persons that live in Summit County have been vaccinated in other counties than the other way around.”
The number of non-county residents receiving vaccines in Summit County will dwindle for the next month and then stop almost completely, officials indicated, as all new appointments made Saturday and afterward will go to individuals with a Summit County address.
Friday was the last day for people in the first wave of vaccine eligibility like teachers and first responders to register for an appointment, a group that includes many of the non-county residents who are eligible to be vaccinated here.
Bullough indicated he believed those workers have had ample time to schedule an appointment.
Older second-homeowners who are living here remain eligible to receive a vaccine, but he said the clinic hasn’t seen many such people come through.
“It is true that … the language we focus on is ‘individuals who live in Summit County,’ and that is determined by having an address here,” Bullough said. “And the fact also is that second-homeowners pay taxes here, they contribute to the base of our community, so we are not turning them away, but we’re not seeing large numbers.”
Those whose primary addresses are elsewhere, including second-homeowners and workers, are not included in the census data the state uses to allocate vaccine.
But Bullough said Summit County’s population has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, and that the county has successfully lobbied to receive more doses than it was originally slated to receive.
The county’s vaccine appointments are full for nearly the next month, Bullough said, and the county released data showing that there were 1,223 future appointments scheduled as of Thursday.
That number will continue to rise, and more quickly than officials anticipated, as the county anticipates a modest influx of vaccine supply.
Bullough said the county is expecting to receive nearly double the number of doses in coming weeks than anticipated.
He said the state initially allocated 300 doses to Summit County, which rose to 400 and then recently reached 500 per week.
Bullough said Thursday the county is expecting to receive 700 doses per week in the near future, and that the next shipment is set to contain even more than that.
“Fairly incredibly, Monday, we will receive 900 doses,” Bullough said. “That is an enormous jump but it’s a one-time jump. We anticipate, moving forward, that we should receive somewhere in the ballpark of about 700 doses a week and then that will gradually ramp up.”
2,200 – number of doses the Summit County Health Department had received as of Wednesday
1,897 – doses administered as of Wednesday
300 – vaccine appointments that were slated to take place Thursday
3 – number of doses that have gone to waste in Summit County
1,223 – future vaccine appointments scheduled
400 to 500 – number of doses officials had planned to receive from the state each week
700 – approximate number of doses officials expect to begin to receive weekly
900 – number of doses officials expect to receive Monday
Source: Summit County
Bullough said the drive-thru clinic at Utah Film Studios could vaccinate more than 300 people per day and that officials were planning to double its capacity by adding another lane of traffic when vaccine numbers warrant it. Bullough said it could soon handle some 5,000 vaccinations per week.
The county has scheduled appointments based on the 400 doses officials expected to receive and Bullough said the county is now preparing to schedule more appointments.
The entirety of the “extra” doses, Bullough said, would be used to inoculate people 70 and older.
Officials anticipate Gov. Spencer Cox’s administration will lower the age threshold to receive a vaccine to 65 in coming weeks, but the state has not declared what the next priority groups will be and when they will be eligible.
Bullough said the county has arranged for second doses to be administered by Park City Hospital, allowing county staffers to increase the number of people they can schedule for the first dose of the vaccine.
Bullough, County Manager Tom Fisher and others were effusive in their praise of Park City Hospital CEO Lori Weston and the volunteers making the operation function.
Weston indicated the Park City Hospital was the only one in the state working with a local health department to help distribute the vaccine, and Bullough indicated the hospital has also established protocols to support patients who are receiving the vaccine and have had past allergic reactions.
Weston stressed the importance of maintaining focus on health guidelines, including mask wearing and social distancing.
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Utah’s legislative general session is set to end on Friday, and if history is any indicator, there will be a flurry of floor amendments and last-minute changes for county officials to monitor.