SALT LAKE CITY — All adults in Utah are now eligible for COVID-19 booster vaccines because all communities in the state are seeing high transmission rates of the disease, Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday.
Beginning on Friday, vaccine providers in Utah are being asked to offer booster shots to any adult in Utah who would like to receive one, Cox said during his monthly PBS news conference.
Also on Thursday, Utah health officials confirmed 1,789 new COVID-19 cases, as well as 13 additional deaths. The rolling, seven-day average of new cases is 1,633 per day, and the positive rate of those tested is 16.6%, according to a daily update from the Utah Department of Health.
Anyone age 18 and older who received a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna more than six months ago — as well as adults who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine more than two months ago — is eligible.
Pointing to widespread confusion over eligibility, Cox said the state wants to make the process simple and help make people “as safe as possible” going into the holidays.
Nationally, booster shots are eligible to adults 18 and older who live or work in high-risk settings, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Cox said over 44,000 kids ages 5-11 have received their first dose of the vaccine in the two weeks they have been available to that age group.
“To get 44,000 kids in just two weeks, by the way, that’s 12.1% of those who are eligible. So we’re very excited about that,” Cox said.
Meanwhile, 228,000 of Utah teens age 12-18 have received their first dose, or 61.2% of those eligible, he added.
The governor also celebrated oral antiviral treatment options “on the horizon,” that will likely become more widely available soon.
“These medications will initially be limited in supply and reserved for those most at risk for hospitalization and death. They will also require a prescription and a visit to a provider’s office,” Cox said.
Emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration is expected to be given within the next few weeks, he noted. The state is preparing a distribution plan to get the drugs to those who need them in the state.
Utah has also ramped up its system for administering monoclonal antibody treatments, Cox said. Last week, the state provided more than 1,000 of those treatments.
But he said he wanted to emphasize that vaccination remains the best way for people to protect themselves and those around them. Cox urged Utahns to get at least one dose of the vaccine by Thanksgiving if they haven’t already done so.
This week, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development also announced a new grant for small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees who work 40 hours or more. The program helps them pay employees for time off to get the vaccine, to get their kids vaccinated, or if they need time off for side effects after receiving the vaccine. The grant includes $500,000 available funds, and applications opened on Nov. 16.
“Dozens of companies have already applied, but there are still funds available,” Cox said.
Businesses can apply by Jan. 20. More information is available at business.utah.gov/sbevgrant.