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What’s the best option for booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

Lois Larsen, 83, comforts her husband, Jerry, 86, while he receives his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at The Lodge at North Ogden on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Starting on Monday afternoon, everyone over the age of 65 will be eligible to apply for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Utah.  County health departments are trying to make it easier for people to book an appointment, but what is the best way to go about it?  Should people go through their county, or through a pharmacy?  

There are pros and cons of going with either option.  On one hand, local health departments are going to have vastly more doses of the vaccine than any pharmacy could.  The demand is still extremely high, but the Salt Lake County Health Department will be able to confirm a spot for everyone who applies.

“You will get a confirmation with your check-in bar code when you book the appointment, immediately.  There is no waitlist,” said spokesman Nicholas Rupp.

Starting at 6 p.m., people over the age of 65 will be able to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, and if they have trouble going through their county, Rupp said a person’s nearby pharmacy is a good option.  He said spreading the vaccines will put less stress on the county, and people may not have to travel as far to their pharmacy as they would a vaccination center.

Rupp said, “We found that people who are going to pharmacies are going there because they have an established relationship with that pharmacy.”

If all of the appointments are taken in one county, some people may be tempted to look to another health department, but some officials say that would be a bad idea.  Central Utah Health Department Executive Director Nate Selin said they only receive between 800 and 1,200 doses per week, which is far less than the more populated counties receive.

“I think we’re in the same situation everybody else is in the state.  We could all use a lot more vaccine.  The demand is far outpacing the supply, still,” he said.

Selin said, because of the low supply, they have very few appointments open.

“We’re still working through the next two weeks with appointments scheduled with our 70 and older population,” he said.

Pharmacies are in a similar position.  Supply is low and demand is high.  However, Smith’s Pharmacy Director Jaime Montouro said they expect to get a higher number of weekly doses in the near future.

She said, “Our capacity isn’t as high as the big events that are being held by the health departments.”

Pharmacies do have another possible advantage over county vaccination centers.  Montouro said they don’t limit their doses to people living in any specific location.  So, if someone finds an open appointment anywhere in the state, they can book that slot.

Montouro said, “We definitely collect addresses, but we’re not limiting people from getting their vaccine based on their county.”


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

 

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