Herbert: Hospital Workers, Teachers Will Get First Utah Vaccine Shots

Dec 10, 2020, 4:55 PM | Updated: 11:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While the FDA examines the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Utah continues to refine its distribution plan.

Governor Gary Herbert said Thursday the Pfizer vaccine will likely arrive next week, and Utah’s hospital workers will be the first to get the shots.

Teachers and school staff won’t be far behind, which is critical because a lot of us need to get vaccinated to turn back the virus.

“We just want to get it produced and out to the public as soon as we can,” said Herbert.

The first batch of vaccine will be shipped within 24 hours of FDA emergency use authorization.

Herbert said Utah expects to receive more than 154,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month. A similar allotment of second doses will arrive in January, plus more vaccine as it is available.

The strategic vaccination coalition recommended that educators be included in Phase 1 with health care providers. Teachers and staff in K-12 schools will be eligible to get the vaccine in the second wave of Phase 1, right behind frontline health care workers.

“So, they’re going to be at the front of the line, and we expect that they will in fact have our teachers be able to receive the vaccine by the end of December or first part of January,” said Herbert.

Get ready to roll up your sleeve. Utah health officials estimated 70% of Utahns need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity — an estimate that takes into account the 95% efficacy rate of the vaccines.

“Those estimates are based on other infectious diseases that behave in a similar way,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist.

No vaccine is 100% effective.

“So, we’re really relying on a large percentage of the Utah population to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. So, that we can resume life as normal as possible,” she said.

Herbert said that the 95% efficacy rate of the Pfizer vaccine is higher than anyone expected early in the process.

“The fact that we have such a high rate of effectiveness with this vaccine gives us some assurance that we can get heard immunity with lesser people participating,” said Herbert.

The Utah Department of Health has said their surveys showed about 70% of Utahns are willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

A recent national poll showed 60% of Americans plan to get the vaccine.

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Herbert: Hospital Workers, Teachers Will Get First Utah Vaccine Shots