SALT LAKE CITY – As of Wednesday, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Utah, and medical experts say it is important not to wait to schedule an appointment.
The new guidelines add about a million Utahns to the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility pool.
“There will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated. There is no vaccine immediately enough for everyone, ”said Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Health.
Read: See how to register for a COVID-19 vaccination in Utah
People are asked to take their first and second doses, if they are receiving a series of two doses, in the same location. People getting their second dose in a different location is creating frustration for providers, Hudachko said.
“This creates some difficulties when it comes to managing our inventory. These providers receive doses every week that are the first doses and then, two to three weeks later, they receive the same amount of second doses, ”he said.
Read: All 16+ Utahns are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
It is important that people are vaccinated quickly, said Dr. Tamara Sheffield. Dr. Sheffield is the Medical Director of Community Health and Prevention at Intermountain Healthcare.
“It is really important to vaccinate everyone at once and have everyone immune so that we don’t have individuals harboring these viruses and causing these variants to emerge,” she said.
It is becoming a race between the new variants of COVID-19 and the vaccine, said Dr. Emily Spivak, an infectious disease physician at the University of Utah.
“There are also an increasing number of these variant strains in Utah, specifically, but also nationally, that we think are more infectious or more contagious or transmissible and thus delay the increase in these variants and the potential for another outbreak or another increase in cases that. it could take us back to all the progress we’ve made, “she said,” to slow down and lessen the likelihood of that happening, everyone needs to get out and get vaccinated now. “
Read: Some Utah companies will require employees to be vaccinated
The three biggest concerns during the process for Dr. Sheffield is that the federal government is not going to get the vaccine to Utah fast enough, young people are not going to rush to get vaccinated and people are going to stop protective measures too soon, she said.
“If we can get the vaccine, if we can put it in people’s arms because they are coming to us and in the meantime, we are protected, we can control it,” she said.
To achieve collective immunity, about 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to be protected from the virus. This will likely take several months, say the doctors. It is important not to delay the injection so that we can achieve collective immunity quickly and keep the virus under control, Sheffield said.
Read: Utah governor signs COVID-19 ‘endgame’ bill by removing state mask on April 10
“If people don’t wait and get vaccinated together, we can get to the point where we don’t have the virus circulating and we are protected enough not to pass it on to each other.” she said.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines in Utah, click here.