Salt Lake County begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout to people over 70
SANDY – Seniors by the hundreds flocked to the Mountain America Expo Center to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Monday was the first day that the general public over the age of 70 was allowed to get it, and Salt Lake County health officials say the vaccinations went much smoother than they expected.
While health officials were thrilled to be able to start giving the vaccine to people other than teachers and frontline workers, they also said it was a somber day. Utah officially passed 1,500 deaths from COVID-19, and the Capitol bells will ring 15 times on Tuesday to honor the lives of the people killed by the virus.
Salt Lake County residents getting vaccinated have different reasons for wanting it. Some were convinced by their children to get it.
One woman brought her mother, saying, “She’s 90, and [the virus] doesn’t have a good outcome at that age.”
Others say they wanted to protect their loved ones, or to just stop being afraid about getting sick, themselves, every time they leave their home.
“I just want to be free of the worry,” one patient says. “Just any little thing I do, whether going to the grocery store or to the bank, I won’t have as much worry when I have to do regular activities.”
Workers timed how long it took people to get through the registration lines, and they say people were able to get their medicine within six minutes of arriving, on average. County health officials expected to administer 1,000 doses on the first day of the clinic, but County Mayor Jenny Wilson says she wishes they had another thousand doses to give out.
She says, “We could have done, I think, quadruple the amount, today.”
Wilson says the coronavirus has turned the community on its head. She held back tears when she spoke about the heartbreak and isolation many Utahns have gone through.
She says, “To see people, today, coming through nervous in our parking lots and leaving, literally, 20 to 25 minutes later with smiles on their faces is so rewarding.”
However, she says they want to send a clear message to the federal government, saying the county is ready and able to handle more vaccinations. In the past, she says there have been several roadblocks that have slowed the arrival of vaccines to the state.
Health workers in Davis County say they’ll open their clinics to the general public this week. They were able to vaccinate over 5,500 teachers, nurses and frontline workers last week.
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