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Vaccine Uptake In Idaho Begins To Slow

The hand of a vaccine administrator at St. Luke's Health system reaches for a COVID-19 vaccine on a tray.
St. Luke's Health System

Idaho’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has begun to slow down.

Two weeks ago, the state administered about 95,000 shots -- the most in any week thus far. Last week, nearly 30% fewer doses were given out, according to information presented by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Tuesday.

“Last week, we saw a decline in the number of total doses administered, which was the first time we’ve seen that,” said Dave Jeppesen, the department director.

He said Idaho’s supply of doses is beginning to outpace demand.

“We also have about three-and-a-half weeks of inventory in the state where we like to see just one or two weeks worth of inventory,” Jeppesen said.

The proportion of doses sent to Idaho making it into arms is also falling behind the national percentage. Idaho has administered 73% of doses it’s received, whereas nationally, 80% of doses sent to states have been administered.

On Tuesday, Idaho health officials said this drop could be caused by last week's announcement that states should pause Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. They said, anecdotally, providers reported lots of appointment cancellations and no-shows.

State health officials hope to learn more about the Janssen vaccine pause after federal officials meet again Friday.

For now, they’re worried that vaccine hesitancy is taking hold in Idaho as variant cases increase.

To try to keep vaccination momentum, the health department will give grants to providers bringing doses to people through things like mobile clinics or home visits. It also says it’ll amp up communication efforts to reach people who aren’t sure about the vaccine.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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