Vaccine Rolls Out At Long-Term Care Facilities In Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – Long term care facilities started giving out the COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning.
The vaccine is going to both health care workers and residents who have been hit hard by the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Brian Gross at Woodland Park Rehabilitation Center, which is part of the Avalon Healthcare Group, said they anticipate giving out the vaccine to about 90% of their residents and 70% to staff on Monday.
He said the facility has 103 residents and about 100 health care workers. Woodland Park is among the first long term care facilities in the state to receive the vaccine.
“We’re really privileged to offer the vaccination to our tireless heroes that have endured this pandemic since March, and our residents who are particularly vulnerable to this virus,” Gross said.
Over the last couple weeks, the states primary focus has been health care workers in hospitals. According the Utah Health Department, vaccinations will now extend to non hospital health care workers, public health care workers and tribal health care workers.
There are 27,000 new doses of the vaccine earmarked just for long term care facilities.
“We anticipate this will be a big week with vaccination now that we are getting out to the long term care facilities, getting out to the non hospital health care workforce,” said Tom Hudachko, director of communications at the Utah Department of Health.
Hudachko said not every facility will receive the vaccine in the course of a week, but the process has started. Those responsible for vaccinating in these setting include CVS, Walgreens and Community Nursing Services.
At Woodland Park in Millcreek, CVS began giving the Pfizer vaccine first to its residents.
“They’ve endured nine months now of limited visitation and direct contact with family members,” Gross said. “This has been particularly hard on them as well. This is our light at the end of the tunnel.”
Monday’s was the first of three clinics at the facility. The next one will be in about three – four weeks and then finally a third one soon after.
Also happening Monday, hospitals in both Tooele and Vernal are set to administer their first doses of Moderna’s vaccine.
This move is the start to getting the vaccine to more rural areas of Utah, which is now possible because Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a normal freezer. Pfizer’s vaccine requires specialty equipment to keep it in extremely cold storage.
The next wave of vaccinations will focus on teachers and first responders. Those inoculations are expected to begin in late January.
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