Tooele County Health Department defends vaccinating family members of employees

Feb 3, 2021, 6:45 PM | Updated: 7:04 pm
test to stay tooele county tooele high...
FILE: Entrance of the Tooele County Health Department. Photo credit: Paul Nelson

TOOELE, Utah – Tooele County Health Department is defending their reasoning to vaccinate employees’ immediate family before other members of the community. The department reported those family members were vaccinated sooner than expected. 

However, they did not have a choice. 

Department officials reported the vaccinations happened at the very beginning of the vaccine rollout. Spokesperson Amy Bate noted they received these doses between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

This was before the state opened the vaccination process to people in the general public over the age of 70; before anyone had registered to receive it. Bate reported those vaccines were earmarked for first responders and health care workers, but many of those people declined.

Tooele Family Members

(Taelor Leonelli, RN, administering the COVID-19 vaccine inside the Tooele County Health Department building. Credit: Paul Nelson)

The doses delivered had been thawed and some vials had already been opened.

“We had vials of vaccine that was thawed and it has to be used in a certain amount of time. When you open it, it has to be used in a shorter amount of time,” Bate said.

The department wasn’t allowed to give the medicine to workers inside Mountain West Medical Center, since the hospital is in charge of vaccinating their own employees.

Bate said the county reached out to doctor’s offices, dental clinics and pharmacies, telling them to send over their workers to be vaccinated. However, Bate stated they still had a lot of medicine left over.

That’s when the department decided to give those doses to immediate family members of their employees. Bate believes this ensures people involved in their vaccine rollout would have an extra layer of protection.

“If their family member were to become sick with COVID-19, then our own employees would have to quarantine,” according to Bate.

If they hadn’t done this, Bate affirmed those doses would have been wasted.

Tooele Family Members

(Mary Gallen, RN, giving a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a Tooele County resident. Credit: Paul Nelson)

This decision isn’t sitting well with some people.  One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told KSL the county should have tried harder to find people who are in greater need of the vaccine.

“Even if there wasn’t a list, it should have gone to immediate family members of people in the front line, right there in a hospital,” she said.  “I would think that another facility would have been more than willing to travel to get that vaccine.”

Bate defended the decision by stating the department has never turned away anyone who is eligible for the vaccine due to shortage, and they’ve been able to honor all of their booking appointments. 

She encourages more county residents to sign up for the vaccine because they can handle more appointments than they currently are.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
2 days ago
Havasu Falls spills into the water pools below in Supai, Arizona, in October of 2016. Photo credit:...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls to reopen to visitors after 3-year closure

 (CNN) — Havasu Falls, one of the most intriguing features of the Grand Canyon system, will be reopening to visitors after a three-year closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s with a catch. The reopening is scheduled for February 1; however, access will be limited initially to a certain, small group. People whose previous […]
2 days ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
3 days ago
 A mental health clinic will reopen on Thursday after a carbon monoxide leak sent at least 17 peop...
Michael Locklear

Carbon monoxide poisoning at central Utah clinic hospitalizes 17 people

The Central Utah Counseling Center in Ephraim was evacuated a week ago after a problem with an old furnace was discovered.
4 days ago
a row of guns are pictured...
Mark Jones

KSL at Night: How do we solve gun violence?

KSL at Night hosts Taylor Morgan and Maura Carabello speak with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council about gun violence.
5 days ago
Prescription opioid...
Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Amazon launches $5-a-month unlimited prescription plan

Some of the generic drugs included in the program include Bupropion, Cephalexin, Doxycycline, Estradiol and Sertaline.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Tooele County Health Department defends vaccinating family members of employees