Utah Health Officials Plan For First COVID-19 Vaccinations

Dec 3, 2020, 6:09 PM | Updated: 7:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with the Utah Department of Health placed their first order for COVID-19 vaccines Thursday, and Utah’s two largest hospital systems said they are ready to vaccinate their workers as soon as the vaccine is federally approved.

There is no specific date for approval but, it could happen in about two weeks, which is about the same time the state expects the vaccine to arrive.

Physicians from Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health said they are ready to vaccinate their frontline workers as soon as Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At that time, they will vaccinate 500 to 750 workers a day, depending on vaccine availability.

“We’re not quite sure when we’re going to get the vaccine. But we are going to be prepared and ready for that,” said Dr. Jeanmarie Mayer, chief of infection prevention with University of Utah Health.

The FDA is already scrutinizing vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which the companies deemed 95% effective.

Initially, Utah doctors expect to get a few thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be distributed from the five main hospitals with ultracold refrigeration.

“We are really targeting those health care personnel that have been on the front lines taking care of our COVID patients since March,” said Mayer.

That list includes doctors, nurses, technicians and housekeepers, who have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, she said.

“Both of these vaccines are as safe as most vaccines we have out there,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious disease for University of Utah Health.

While speed in developing a vaccine has been emphasized, Pavia said safety has not been compromised. He believes Utahns can have faith in the process because the FDA has been transparent and plans to put vaccine trial data online for the public and other professionals to see.

Pavia said the vaccines can cause mild side effects like headaches, muscle aches and fevers.

“But there have been no serious safety signals, and the vaccines so far have been studied in people between 18 and 80,” said Pavia.

He said we may not know about rare side effects for months. Neither hospital system will require their staff to take the vaccine, but they will share the trial data with their workers when it is available, so they can make an informed decision.

“As vaccine production increases, there should be more available, and we will be ramping up our ability to administer the vaccine rapidly,” said Dr. Kristin Dascomb, medical director of infection prevention and employee health with Intermountain Healthcare.

They expect some health care workers will have adverse reactions, so they need to be strategic with staffing.

“To ensure that if they do have some mild symptoms, they can feel comfortable being off of work as best we can,” said Dascomb.

High-risk individuals may get their vaccine in February or March. Most of the general public can expect to line up in late spring or early summer.

“Vaccines are our best tool. But they’re not our only tool,” said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, medical director of community health and prevention with Intermountain Healthcare. “We need to use all of the tools in the toolbox in order to prevent that spread from us to vulnerable individuals.“

“So we need to continue to wear masks, social distance and wash our hands frequently. Vaccines work best when fewer people are ill,” Sheffield said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
4 days ago
Ashley Moser

Utah family hasn’t seen father in nearly 1,000 days due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

“None of us were expecting to not see him three years later,” a daughter shares how her Father remains in China.
6 days ago
ATLANTA, GA - UNDATED:  This undated handout photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent...
Jed Boal

U of U researcher joins international team to confirm specific origin of COVID-19

New research released Tuesday confirmed the origin of COVID-19. A University of Utah Health and an international team of researchers found that the earliest cases of COVID-19 in humans emerged at a wholesale fish market in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
21 days ago
Only 50% of Utans are vaccinated and cases are surging because of the Omicron variant BA.5. FILE PH...
Jed Boal

BA.5 variant driving new surge of Utah COVID-19 cases

President Joe Biden’s positive Covid case Thursday was a sober reminder that Utah is not done fending off COVID-19 in many communities.
26 days ago
(File) Intermountain Healthcare Faculty in Murray....
Jed Boal

COVID-19 hospitalizations doubled, but mortality rate is low

Hospitals see an uptick in COVID hospitalizations due to a new infectious variant that is less lethal but more transmittable.
1 month ago
Intermountain Medical Center in Murray (KSL TV)...
Jed Boal

Researchers: Intermittent fasting provides protection against severe COVID-19

Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare have researched the health benefits of intermittent fasting for nearly a decade. Their latest discovery: intermittent fasting helps protect against severe COVID, but it is not a replacement for vaccination.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Utah Health Officials Plan For First COVID-19 Vaccinations