Utah Fell Short Of July 4 Vaccination Goal After Data Error, UDOH Says

Jul 12, 2021, 11:50 AM | Updated: 12:07 pm

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health revised the percentage of Utah adults with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after officials discovered a misinterpretation of federal vaccine data.

UDOH said the revised data means Utah did not hit its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by the Fourth of July.

“We screwed up,” Gov. Spencer Cox said. “Because of a reporting error, we have not yet hit 70% on our adult vaccinations. I promised to admit our mistakes and hold us accountable. I hope you will forgive us — and know we have made changes to ensure it won’t happen again.”

UDOH said teams misinterpreted federal vaccination data, which includes approximately 30,000 doses given through agencies like the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services and the Bureau of Prisons.

Federally administered doses are listed cumulatively in a system called Tiberius, but UDOH had counted the doses as “new” doses.

This misunderstanding led to single doses being counted multiple times as they were added to the state’s totals, UDOH said.

“It is disappointing to discover we did not reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4,” UDOH director of communications Tom Hudachko said in a statement Monday. “And we regret that inaccurate information was relayed to Gov. Cox and the people of Utah. But we remain steadfast in our commitment to presenting data accurately, transparently, and with integrity.”

Cox said state officials were “surprised and excited and a little skeptical” after UDOH told them Utah had hit the 70% vaccination mark before Independence Day.

He said they waited a few days to double- and triple-check the numbers, and every report indicated the goal had been reached.

“A couple days ago, we learned that there was a mistake in the way we had counted federal doses,” Cox said in an apology issued Monday. “It soon became clear that we had only reached 67.07%. While federal data sharing has been extremely difficult, this one is on us. Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I.

“From the beginning, we have emphasized the importance of building trust with the citizens of our state. Trust consists of two things: competence and ethical behavior. While we came up short as a result of simple human error, I’m happy to report that there is no evidence of any ethical breaches in this mistake.

“Our data team at the Department of Health has been incredible throughout this pandemic. At times working around the clock, these public servants have been recognized as one of the most thorough and transparent data teams in the country. While this miscalculation is inexcusable, they have re-examined processes to prevent this type of error from happening again.

“Most importantly though, this means we have even more work to get Utahns vaccinated. We will continue to do everything possible to make vaccinations easier and more accessible.

“And we will continue to hold ourselves accountable.”

UDOH officials urged Utahns to get vaccinated with the highly transmissible Delta variant spreading throughout the state. Over 90% of all COVID-19 cases that were sequenced at the end of June were identified as the Delta variant, which has become the state’s second-highest variant of concern and is expected to pass the Alpha variant in the coming weeks.

At the end of last week, 100 Utahns were in the ICU due to COVID-19 among 237 residents who were hospitalized due to the virus, and the state’s ICUs were 80% full.

Utah’s rolling seven-day average for positive cases was 401 on Friday. On June 1, Utah’s seven-day average was 200 cases.

“The data also indicates the vast majority of new cases are in unvaccinated people, which is driving the recent increase in COVID-19 cases,” UDOH said.

Twelve Utah counties were also moved back to the “high” transmission level for the first time since March last week.

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Utah Fell Short Of July 4 Vaccination Goal After Data Error, UDOH Says