Health Officials Urge Public Not To Let Guard Down As Vaccinations Begin

Dec 18, 2020, 3:29 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out across Utah, Intermountain Healthcare has reported it has given the vaccine to more than 1,000 caregivers.

On Friday morning, Vice President Mike Pence, along with his wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams all received the vaccination live on TV. 

“I think it’s important seeing our leaders get vaccinated,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem with Intermountain Healthcare. “(It) gives people faith in terms of the science and in terms of the safety of this vaccine.”

With the Pfizer vaccine still months away from reaching the general public, he and caregivers are reminding the public not to let their guard down.

While the vaccine is good news, the bad news is Utah lost 30 more people to the virus on Thursday, and another 14 people’s deaths were reported Friday.

Stenehjem received his vaccine the same day, and he said it is comparable to the flu shot. He also said that while the state is seeing a decrease in cases, hospitals are still handling patients who were infected during the spike a couple of weeks ago.

The deaths happening now are likely due to infections that spread during the Thanksgiving holiday, he added, noting that Utahns should keep Christmas gatherings to within their own homes.

“We’re going to be in the same situation as we were for Thanksgiving,” he said. “… We’re going to be in a situation where we have very high rates of ICU occupancy. We are still in a position where we have very high community transmission rates. We had 3,000 cases reported yesterday, so we are nowhere near a place where we have low-level community transmission.”

“Our recommendation is, again, is to keep it within your family,” he added.

Stenehjem said Utah could also see more vaccine shipments next month, which could push up the time the general public will have access to it. He said that realistically, residents will likely be able to get the vaccine if they choose to between April – July.

He added that the vaccine is supposed to be safe for pregnant women, but they should check with their OBGYNs first to decide if its right based on their individual risks associated with their pregnancies.

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Health Officials Urge Public Not To Let Guard Down As Vaccinations Begin