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Almost A Quarter Of Utahns Unsure About COVID-19 Vaccine, New Poll Says

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The White House rolled out its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, but the record timing health officials expect to have a vaccine available may also be hurting the likelihood some will choose to get it.

“My greatest issue with the COVID vaccine is it’s on the fast track,” said Jared St. Clair, owner of Vitality Nutrition.

When it comes to beating the virus, St. Clair sticks to what he has always known: natural medicine. That’s what his shop sells. And he said he has never had a vaccine in his life.

“One of the very few 48 year olds who has not,” he said with a laugh.

Jared St. Clair, owner of Vitality Nutrition. (KSL-TV)

But he may be one of more than a few who would not get this vaccine.

A new Deseret News-Hinckley Institute poll included a survey of 1,000 likely Utah voters — 52% said they would get the vaccine, 24% said they would not and the rest aren’t sure what they would do.

“I personally signed up for the clinical trials so I’m confident enough to jump in and be a part of the process,” said Brian Poole, associate professor of microbiology and molecular biology at Brigham Young University.

Poole is a strong advocate for vaccines, but he admitted there is merit to some of the concerns surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is actually a vaccine that’s against a virus that’s happening now and it’s also one where the testing process is being dramatically shortened compared to other vaccines,” he said. “The reason why it takes a while for vaccines to be developed is because it does take a while sometimes for these types of side effects to show up.”

Poole wasn’t surprised to see the poll results. He said Provo and Salt Lake City lead the nation among urban areas with the lowest vaccine rates.

He added rushing a vaccine would be a mistake, but he remained optimistic the coronavirus vaccine will be effective, with so many groups working on it and the amount of money being poured into it.

“If it’s a well-done study that uses enough people and it’s not pushed forward to fit some political agenda then I think, yeah the vaccine’s probably going to be safe,” he said. “The vaccine is incredibly important. It’s kind of the sure way to end the pandemic assuming we get one that works well.”

But Poole added it will take around 70% of the population to get the vaccine to really curtail the virus and get back to the normal we’re used to.

The White House rolled out plans to distribute a free vaccine for the virus Wednesday, and local health departments have been preparing for the possibility for a while.

“That’s something we’re already practicing. How would we do that? How many people can we get through safely?” said Aislynn Toman-Hill, public information officer at the Utah County Health Department. “We were asked by the Utah Department of Health early on in 2020 to really start thinking about what large scale vaccination would look like in our county.”

Toman-Hill said their health department is developing an appointment app that would help them administer a vaccine at a large scale as smoothly as possible while keeping in mind physical distancing.

But don’t expect people like St. Clair to line up.

“I don’t consider myself an anti-vaxxer. I consider myself vaccine aware,” St. Clair said. “I’ve made my choices based on my awareness.”

“We’ve been told over and over again, ‘wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, use a mask, do all these things. But nobody’s talking in any significant way what we can do to build the body’s natural immunity to this stuff,” he added.

St. Clair said he stays up to date on the latest information coming from the CDC. And he’d like to see the process slow down to really make sure the vaccine is safe.

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