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Biden says all U.S. adults could get vaccine by end of May; Cox says end of April for Utahns

Take your ‘shot’ against COVID-19, Salt Lake County residents urged in new campaign

A sign directs people toward COVID-19 vaccines.
A woman gets her temperature taken before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Health Department launched a new $1 million campaign Tuesday to encourage residents to take their “shot” against COVID-19 as 487 new cases of the virus and nine additional deaths were reported in the state.

“This Is Our Shot. Let’s Take It,” is the theme of the county’s vaccination campaign that includes radio, TV, billboards and other advertising as well as a new website, ThisIsOurShot.com, where appointments can be scheduled for those on the state’s eligibility list.

“We’ve been working quickly and have put a lot of time and resources behind our efforts,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said. “It’s important we inform the residents of Salt Lake County and others in our community in a timely, upfront manner as details and information change frequently.”

Biden says there will be enough vaccine for all by end of May

Vaccinations are moving along faster than expected nationally, with President Joe Biden now saying there’s going to be enough vaccine available by the end of May for all adult Americans — two months earlier than he’d previously predicted.

That’s because Merck & Co. announced it will help produce the newest vaccine approved for use in the United States, the single-dose product from rival Johnson & Johnson, which had pledged 100 million doses by the end of June but has less than 4 million doses ready, the Associated Press reported.

Governors were told by the White House Tuesday to be prepared for an increasing supply of Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines as well, jumping from 14.5 million nationwide to 16 million to 17 million by the end of March, and 17 million to 18 million by the end of April.

In Utah, which receives about 0.84% of the federal vaccine allocation based on adult population, Gov. Spencer Cox has already said he expects to have enough doses for every adult in the state who wants a shot by the end of April. Earlier, the governor had set the end of May as a goal.

“There is an end in sight,” Cox said last week. He has set the threshold for lifting Utah’s mask mandate in low transmission counties, at eight weeks after Utah has received 1,633,000 first vaccine doses, enough for about 70% of the state’s adults.

Biden wasn’t quite so optimistic when asked by reporters Tuesday when the United States will return to normal.

“I’ve been cautioned not to give an answer to that because we don’t know for sure. But my hope is, by this time next year, we’re going to be back to normal, and before that — my hope. But again, it depends upon if people continue — continue to be smart and understand that we still can have significant losses. There’s a lot we have to do yet,” the president said.

‘Silver lining’ in vaccination appointment system glitch

The efforts by the Salt Lake County Health Department come after a glitch in the state’s new online registration system for vaccine appointments, Vaccinate.Utah.gov, allowed some 7,200 people who do not yet qualify for a shot to sign up over the weekend even though they indicated their were ineligible.

All of those appointments have been canceled, either by the state or by about 1,000 individuals who realized they shouldn’t have been able to schedule them. That opened up slots in Salt Lake County, the state’s largest local health department, that still need to be filled, department spokesman Gabe Moreno said.

“We are running a little bit slower at the start of this week, just because so many ineligible folks who in good faith signed up for appointments and later had those cancellation notices, or they canceled when they realized the system should not have allowed them to make those appointments,” Moreno said.

He said the problem with the state’s registration system was “very unfortunate but at the same time, we see it as a lot of people are very enthused about wanting to get the vaccine. So there is a silver lining. We know that more and more Utahns are willing to jump at the opportunity to get the vaccine. So there is some good.”

Salt Lake County has a $1 million contract with Love Communications for the vaccination campaign, which has been in the works for several months, Moreno said.

Only those who meet the state’s eligibility requirements are able to get vaccinated. That list, expanded this week to Utahns at least 16 years old with specified medical conditions, also includes health care workers, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staffs, K-12 teachers and school staffs and those 65 and older.

The state’s registration system, made available to all of Utah’s 13 local health departments at no cost, is being used by just two counties, Salt Lake and San Juan, said Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko. He said only about 44 appointments ended up having to be cancelled in San Juan County.

The state paid an existing vendor, MTX Group, $343,000 to develop the registration system. and was charged $1,785 for the time spent updating the system over the weekend with the requested change, state Department of Technology Services spokeswoman Stephanie Weteling said.

Latest Utah COVID-19 numbers

As of Tuesday, the state health department said 741,297 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, a daily increase of 20,268 doses The state’s federal allotment of doses, about 122,000 this week, is expected to jump as supplies increase.

The rolling seven-day average for positive tests in Utah is 603 per day.

There have been 5,582 people tested in the state since Monday, along with an additional 14,540 tests conducted. The rolling seven-day average for percent positivity is 4.9% when all tests are counted, and 10.5% when multiple tests by an individual within 90 days are excluded.

Utah has 213 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and the state’s death toll is 1,949, including nine deaths reported Tuesday. Two of those deaths, however, occurred before Feb. 9. The latest deaths are:

  • A Davis County man, between the ages of 65 and 84, not hospitalized at time of death.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, long-term care facility resident.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, hospitalized at time of death.
  • A Summit County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Tooele County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, older than 85, long-term care facility resident.
  • A Utah County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Washington County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Weber County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.