First Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive In Utah

Dec 14, 2020, 1:53 PM | Updated: 8:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine has made its way to Utah and several other states across the country.

Two boxes arrived at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo on Monday morning, while another two boxes were delivered to the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.

“Today, we come to you with optimism and hope,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare. “Today signals the beginning of the end of the pandemic in Utah. This is a proud day for science and it’s a proud day for medicine.”

Each box carried 975 doses which need to be kept at -80 degrees.

Health officials said this first shipment is just the beginning of an expected 23,000 doses that will go to hospitals across the state in the first week.

“We are excited at Intermountain Healthcare to be able to offer this,” said Dr. Kristin Dascomb, medical director of infection prevention for employee health at Intermountain.

Frontline workers will begin receiving the vaccine Wednesday. Those at the highest risk of exposure are slated to receive the vaccine first — which include workers in COVID units, nurses and physicians in the ICU, and others who work in respiratory therapy and environmental services.

Getting the vaccine is not mandatory for Intermountain’s healthcare workers, but Dascomb expects around 70% of their staff will want to receive it initially.

Stenehjem said “we have absolutely no hesitation to be personally vaccinated.” He also acknowledged they don’t know how long the vaccine protects you and whether it prevents you from getting infected or just from getting sick.

“The Pfizer study looked at symptomatic COVID-19 as their end point. It did not look at whether people can get infected and remain asymptomatic and continue to transmit the virus even if they themselves don’t get sick,” he said.

In other words, “Even if you’re vaccinated, you may still be able to transmit the virus to those that are at high risk for negative outcomes, if infected.”

Even with the vaccine in Utah, health officials stressed widespread vaccination is still months away. They urged Utahns to continue wearing face masks and keeping their distance from others.

“It’s incredibly important, until we can get the vast majority of people who are at risk for severe outcomes, until we can get all of those people vaccinated,” Stenehjem said. “There’s no sugarcoating that we are still in the throes of a global pandemic that is affecting Utah very very hard.”

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First Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive In Utah