The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare hosted its first weekly COVID-19 vaccine briefing Tuesday, about three weeks after the first dose was administered in the state.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Idaho had received 83,475 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and 20,843 — about a quarter of those received — had been administered. However, the state’s tally of vaccines administered can be delayed by a few days.
Elke Shaw-Tulloch, the public health administrator at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said Idaho is set to receive about 20,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines weekly going forward. Three to four weeks later, depending on the type of vaccine, the state will receive a shipment of the same amount for the second dose.
Those shipments of first and second doses will happen simultaneously, and the amount allocated to Idaho could change if vaccine production amps up or if more vaccine options are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said it will release a COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard later this week that will lay out Idaho’s vaccine distribution progress in detail.
As of now, Idaho is still working through vaccinating the highest priority group — health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. Some are beginning to get their second doses this week.
State health officials do not know how many people in the highest priority group are declining the vaccine when it’s offered to them, but state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said that’s information the state would like to have.
“We absolutely want to know that information to help us figure out whether targeted education or other information could be helpful,” she said.
Health department personnel say if providers have extra doses of the vaccine, they are obligated to stick to the prioritization schedule set by the state. But, the main goal is to avoid doses going to waste, so if they have to stray from the schedule in those emergency situations, it’s okay. Still, they should coordinate with their local health district.
“We have had very, very few reports of any wastage,” said Immunization Program Manager Sarah Leeds. “I don’t have a number, but it has been very minimal and we consider this a huge success.”
The next priority group could start receiving the vaccine in February. It's set to include essential workers and Idahoans over 75 years of age, though this subset will be finalized during the state’s next vaccine committee meeting this Friday.
Department Director Dave Jeppesen said Idahoans will be able to get the vaccine at “the normal places that you would go to get vaccinated.” This includes doctors' offices, pharmacies and possibly workplaces.
In the meantime, he said people should continue to adhere to physical distancing protocols and to wear face masks.
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