CORONAVIRUS

Salt Lake County Opens Vaccine Appointments For Utahns 16+

Mar 22, 2021, 7:48 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake County released thousands of new vaccine appointments Monday for the next eligible group to get the shot: all Utahns 16 and older.

“It’s exciting because it does mean a sooner end to the pandemic, assuming the public responds and people go get vaccinated,” said Nicholas Rupp, spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department.

At 9 a.m. Monday, they released nearly 47,000 appointment slots through the end of April. By noon, about 13,000 people had booked their appointments. By 5 p.m. — there were 18,590 booked appointments.

Among those who booked their time slot was 17-year-old Sienna Martinez-Huff. She may not be a health care worker, may not have underlying health conditions and may only qualify as a senior at school. But Martinez-Huff became eligible for the vaccine this week. And she’s getting it because she wants things to get back to normal.

“I’m on drill team and so it kind of sucked with the pandemic just because you’d have to practice with masks,” she said.

Sienna Martinez-Huff is on her school’s drill team. (Martinez-Huff family)

Martinez-Huff misses spending time with others, like her grandfather.

“I think the most challenging part has been just not being able to see each other as often,” she said.

Now that she has her appointment set she said, “There’s still a little bit of fear, but I am more excited than scared.”

Governor Spencer Cox said last week during the announcement that all Utahns age 16 and up would be eligible, and that it would take weeks for it to happen. Martinez-Huff scheduled her appointment for April 16. As of Monday night, Salt Lake County had 28,170 appointments still available with the first openings on April 13.

“I’m just asking everyone to be patient,” Rupp said, adding that making everyone eligible for the shot earlier is “exciting because it does mean a sooner end to the pandemic, assuming the public responds and people go get vaccinated.”

So far, he said county residents are responding and they’re seeing the impact.

“It’s exciting to see. You can literally see when vaccination took effect and the case counts in that group dropped,” he said. “We know it’s making a difference and decreasing cases.”

According to Rupp, Salt Lake County saw a 34% decrease in cases from December to January for those at least 80 years old. From January to February, it was a 69% decrease and from February to March, they’ve seen a 76% decrease.

For 70- to 79-year-olds, they saw a 16% decrease in cases from December to January. From January to February a 62% decrease, and from February to March, they’ve seen an 81% decrease.

For 60- to 69-year-olds, there was a 22% drop in cases from December to January. From January to February they saw a 61% decrease, and from February to March so far they have seen a 68% decrease.

Rupp noted that the county has a greater capacity to vaccinate, but the number of slots available is based on the number of vaccine doses they anticipate receiving from the federal government.

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Salt Lake County Opens Vaccine Appointments For Utahns 16+