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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Brad Little Moves Up Idaho's Vaccine Timeline By 3 Weeks

Darin Oswald
Idaho Statesman

Gov. Brad Little announced Wednesday all Idahoans who are at least 16 years old will be able to make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 5 – three weeks earlier than the state originally planned.

Also, people with at least one medical condition, Little said, would be eligible for a vaccine starting March 29.

“With each passing week, as more and more Idahoans choose to get vaccinated, we get closer to returning to normal,” Little said.

The decision to open up appointments to the general public early came, in part, because some vaccine providers were starting to see plateauing demand, said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, the public health administrator at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“They’re having some issues with having more vaccine available than they are people coming in,” she said during a briefing after the governor’s announcement. “So we wanted to be able to allow them that flexibility to move through the population groups a little bit faster.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, 243,081 people had been fully vaccinated — about 17% of the state’s population 16 years of age and older. Another 144,959 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

COVID-19 has killed 1,951 Idahoans and 543,000 Americans since last year.

Little didn’t take any questions from the press during this short announcement, but the governor repeatedly emphasized the vaccine’s safety and efficacy amid a sense of hesitancy from a significant portion of state residents.

“If you are still unsure about the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider,” Little said. “There are good reasons most of them did not hesitate to receive their COVID vaccine weeks ago.”

Idaho’s top health official, Dave Jeppesen, said earlier this month that 40% of state residents are either taking a wait-and-see approach before getting a vaccine, or won’t get one at all.

Across the country, 30% of adults said they don’t plan to get a vaccine, according to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Those who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 and Republican men were the least likely groups of people to get a vaccine. 

Those who live in rural areas and Americans under 45 also said they don’t plan on getting a vaccine at higher rates than others.

Jeppesen said Idaho began rolling out a public service campaign Wednesday, aiming to reach people in that hesitant group. 

“The COVID vaccine really is our best shot at protecting jobs, saving lives and keeping our kids in schools. So, please choose to receive the vaccine,” Little said.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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