Record editorial: Vaccination campaign is a colossal task, but officials must get it right
Gov. Spencer Cox did not mince words.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, he recapped a message he had delivered that morning to health officials as the state attempted to shake off a bumpier-than-desired start to its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
“There is nothing more important in any of our careers, collectively, than what we are doing right now,” he said. “This is what the world has been waiting for. This is what we will be judged by: our ability to get these life-saving and career-saving, economy-saving, health-saving drugs out to the people who need them the most. This virus does not sleep, this virus does not take weekends off and neither should we.”
Intense? Yes. But accurate.
The task facing officials, from the governor to staffers at local health departments, is a colossal one. Distributing hundreds of thousands of vaccines throughout the state in a matter of months and getting them into the arms of Utahns as quickly as possible is a logistical undertaking with few recent equivalents.
The stakes could not be higher. Roughly 1,400 Utahns have died of COVID-19. More than 300,000 have contracted the disease. The state’s rolling seven-day average of cases is near an all-time record. In Summit County, the situation is similarly bleak, with daily case numbers higher than ever before.
Against that backdrop, every vaccine that is not quickly used is a missed opportunity to protect someone and bring us one step closer to ending the pandemic.
An effective vaccination campaign will save numerous lives. A poorly run one, meanwhile, will cost them.
Unfortunately, the state’s vaccination push has started somewhat slowly, as Cox acknowledged Friday. In Summit County, Health Director Rich Bullough reported early last week that supply shortfalls had hindered the Health Department’s effort — a factor that is likely to persist for months as the nationwide stock remains limited — though the county later opened its first mass vaccination site for people in qualifying groups.
This week, Bullough said the county has the capacity to deliver three times the vaccines it is receiving from the state and asked residents for patience — a tall order given the circumstances.
It will be months, unfortunately, before everyone who wants the vaccine can get it. But the process, hopefully, will run smoother from here on.
We know how challenging this undertaking is. Nonetheless, we are counting on officials to get it right.
Indeed, this is what we, like the rest of the world, have been waiting for.
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