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Idaho updates its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plans

Governor Brad Little at his Jan. 12 announcement of updates to Idaho's vaccination program. Screen shot by Catie Clark.

Governor Brad Little at his Jan. 12 announcement of updates to Idaho’s vaccination program. Screenshot by Catie Clark

In back-to-back statements, Governor Brad Little and officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced important updates on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Idaho. The most important item was that Idaho has established an order of group to vaccinate that differs from federal guidelines.

The vaccine rollout began in December with front-line health care workers, care providers, plus long-term care facility staff and residents.

Idaho has now updated the vaccination rollout as follows:

  • Starting 01/12/2021, vaccinations will be available to first responders like firefighters, police, protective services and community support personnel; to teachers and staff at K-12 schools and at day care and child care facilities and to correctional and detention facility staff.
  • Starting in early February, vaccinations will be available to adults 65 years of age and older.
  • Starting in mid-February, vaccinations will be available to food and agriculture workers, and USDA processing plant inspectors; to grocery, convenience store and food pantry workers; to Idaho National Guard members; manufacturing workers; public transit workers and U.S. Postal Service workers.
  • Starting in March, vaccinations will be available to people aged 16 to 64 years with medical conditions that increase
    the risk for severe COVID-19 and to essential workers not included in previous groups.
  • Starting in May, vaccinations will be made available to the general public 16 years of age and older.

“Our goal with vaccine planning and distribution is, in part, to reduce transmission and preserve a functioning health care system — and get back to normal as quickly as possible,” Little said. “Idaho is administering the vaccine faster than the national average, and today I’m announcing strategies that will continue to advance us by building up provider capacity and increasing access, and efficiently and effectively getting Idaho’s workforce and most high-risk individuals vaccinated.”

The vaccines do not go to IDHW or any other state agency. The vaccine doses are shipped directly from the manufacturer to local public health district facilities and to health care providers enrolled to give the shots, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

“There are no resource barriers,” Little pointed out, stating that the federal government has provided more than adequate funds to support the vaccination program in Idaho. “There are 247 enrolled providers.” The providers that can give the vaccination shots are located throughout the state in every county.

Little also distinguished the role of government vs. the role of providers, saying, “The State of Idaho gets the doses and the resources to the providers, and the providers get the shots in the arms of people who want it.”

“To get a vaccination,” IDHW director Dave Jeppesen said, “contact your personal physician, pharmacy or local public health district.”

Since mid-December, more than 33,000 long-term care facility staff and residents and health care workers have received vaccines.

 “We plan to accelerate the pace while ensuring a sustainable cadence of vaccination moving forward,” Little said. “The State of Idaho will roll out a new plan to hundreds of hospitals, pharmacies, local public health districts, and other providers in the coming days to ensure providers have financial support to administer the shots as quickly as possible so we can build up capacity and get more Idahoans vaccinated.”

IDHW has created a new internet dashboard at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ with detailed information on the progress of vaccination in Idaho. The Vaccine Data Dashboard shows the total number of people vaccinated by county. Additionally, the dashboard is being built to show how many doses have been shipped to each county as well so providers and the public can compare doses shipped versus doses administered in their county.

 “This is another step in Idaho’s commitment to transparency throughout the pandemic,” Little said.

About Catie Clark

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