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Utahns Age 50+ Eligible For Shots While ‘Vaccine Chasers’ Continue To Wait

LEHI, Utah – Utahns age 50 and older are now eligible to make an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine, while “vaccine chasers” continue to wait for their shot to get the shot.

“I thought maybe I’d come by,” said Dustin Bunderson, inside the Megaplex Theater in Lehi. It’s one of five theater locations that doubles as a vaccine site for Nomi Health.

“My wife said she saw something on Facebook or something that said you could come get a vaccine if there’s anything leftover,” he said.

Bunderson’s wife is a nurse and has already received the vaccine. They have a trip planned in April and he wanted to be sure COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way of it. That is why Thursday’s trip to the movies was not about the popcorn, but about chasing a shot he wasn’t yet eligible to get.

“My chances are kind of low, but better than nothing,” he said.

All Utahns age 50 years and older now qualify for the vaccine, along with those age 16 and older with certain underlying conditions.

“I wanted to protect myself and my daughter who’s already had lung problems and cancer,” said Susan Cluff.

Cluff called Nomi Health Wednesday night and set up an appointment for the next day. Though, she admitted, she was initially “a little nervous” to get the vaccine.

“Just because,” she said. “I hear things and I wonder about things.”

At the same time, Cluff longed for a return to the way things used to be.

“I’d like to be able to be with groups again,” she said. “I want to go back to Disney.”

Nomi Health does not condone the behavior of those whom staff members have dubbed “vaccine chasers” — people who show up before the clinic closes and wait to see if there’s anything left. Some days there have been a couple of dozen people waiting outside. Other days, like Thursday, they have a handful. But officials said they almost never have anything left to give.

Most of Nomi Health’s locations use the Pfizer vaccine, which comes shipped in bottles. Each bottle holds six doses of the vaccine. And workers don’t open bottles except for eligible people when they show up for their appointments. But every once and a while, they open a bottle near the end of the day for an appointment, but there aren’t enough people who show to use all six doses.

That was the case on Thursday in Lehi.

“Hoping maybe I can snag one,” said Bunderson. “I’d be glad to get one and not have it be wasted.”

Bunderson got his dose. Others were turned away, but no dose was wasted.

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