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Vaccinations See 'Slow, Steady Progress,' Idaho Health Officials Say

A sign for a vaccine clinic in Buhl sits in a parking lot.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
A sign outside an old gymnasium in Buhl highlights an open vaccine clinic.

Though COVID-19 cases are down across the board in Idaho, more than 90% of people recently infected in Idaho were unvaccinated, or the state didn't have proof of their vaccination record, Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner told reporters Tuesday.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said the state is pleased about the high rate of Idaho seniors that have been vaccinated — about 76% of those 65 and older have gotten at least one dose. Hospitalizations among people 80 and older are down 80% since January.

But with less than half of eligible people in Idaho with at least their first vaccine dose, the state has a long way to go, Hahn said. She said she's particularly worried about the fall when flu season begins.

“The hospitals could get overwhelmed. Even if COVID doesn’t surge too much, if we have both going on, it could add up to quite a challenge," she said.

During the media briefing Tuesday, Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said Idaho’s pace of vaccination is lagging behind other states, but she said Idaho is still making "slow, steady progress."

In the last week, about 25,000 doses were administered in Idaho, down from a high of more than 90,000 the first week of April.

"We are going to have to just keep chipping away at this," said Hahn, "and how we can help support the local health districts and local health facilities, doctors, to do this work, is really where we’re focused right now.”

Hahn and other state health department leaders said local health departments have recently seen success in doing small pop-up clinics, where they might only vaccinate 10 or 20 people.

The state health department will be working to provide accurate vaccine information and resources to local physicians, who can then relay it to their patients.

State health officials have still not ruled out vaccine incentives, but they said they want to assess how things are working in other states that have rolled them out.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.