HEALTH

‘We screwed up.’ Governor Cox retracts his Utah vaccination rates claim that 70% of eligible Utahns are vaccinated

Jul 12, 2021, 12:00 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:36 pm

Governor Spencer Cox - Utah vaccination rates...

FILE: Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Photo: Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly a week ago, Governor Cox celebrated a COVID-19 vaccine milestone, stating 70% of eligible Utahns over the age of 18 have been vaccinated. Now, the state is retracting the statement, citing a Utah vaccination rates data reporting error. 

In a tweet from Cox on Monday, he announced there was a miscount of federal vaccine doses, and that 67.07% of eligible Utahns over the age of 18 have received at least their first COVID-19 shot, rather than 70.02% as previously reported. 

Governor Cox opened the statement by owning up to the mistake. “We screwed up,” wrote the governor. “And I sincerely apologize.”

Cox mentioned that, in the past, data sharing with the federal government has been difficult. But he took responsibility for this inaccuracy. 

“This one is on us,” said Cox. “Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I.” 

Governor Cox says the state has taken steps to ensure a mistake like this does not occur in the future. Additionally, Cox says the mistake was simply human error, and there’s no indication of ethical breaches. 

UDOH spots the Utah vaccination rates error

The Utah Department of Health initially spotted the Utah vaccination rates discrepancy, discovering they tallied single doses many times in some cases.

In a news release Tuesday, the Utah Department of Health noted that federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services, and the Bureau of Prisons, don’t report their vaccine data to state immunization systems. Instead, UDOH looks at Tiberius, a federal vaccine database, to account for those doses. 

“The UDOH mistakenly interpreted all federal doses reported in Tiberius as “new” doses, when in fact Tiberius reports “cumulative” doses. This misunderstanding led to single doses being counted multiple times,” read the department’s statement.

The department apologized for the error relayed to the governor and to Utahns, stating, “we remain steadfast in our commitment to presenting data accurately, transparently, and with integrity.”

Both the governor and the Utah Department of Health said the miscalculation intensifies the need for Utahns to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially as the Delta variant becomes more prominent. 

“Most importantly though, this means we have even more work to get Utahns vaccinated,” emphasized Cox. “We will continue to do everything possible to make vaccinations easier and more accessible. And we will continue to hold ourselves accountable.”

Making the vaccine more accessible

The governor’s statement also says this mistake shows health officials need to do “more work” when it comes to Utah vaccination rates.  He vows to make the vaccine easier to get.  Some health officials say the state is trying to find the people who still want to get their shots, but they’ve been putting it off.

State Immunization Director Rich Lakin said, “We still have about, possibly 13 percent of the population that are not against the vaccine, and they’re just waiting.”

He believes the increasing number of new cases, and the prevalence of the Delta variant will convince more people they need to protect themselves from the virus.

“We’re one of the states that’s being hit by the Delta variant pretty hard, right now,” Lakin said.

He says many doctors have been hesitant to offer the vaccines in their offices, fearing they wouldn’t be able to store the medication properly.  However, Lakin says storage guidelines have relaxed since the beginning of the rollout.  He says doctors are being allowed to request a smaller shipment of doses.

“Before, remember, it was close to a thousand doses, minimum, that could be requested.  Well, a lot of physician’s offices can’t handle that,” according to Lakin.

Plus, doctors will be allowed to keep the vaccines in freezers for longer.

He said, “They can store the Pfizer vaccine in their freezer for a longer period of time, now.  I believe it’s up to 45 days from when they receive it.”

Related articles:

We want to hear from you.

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

Health

long covid clinic patient in utah...

Adam Small

U of U long COVID clinic shares findings after three years of seeing patients

The Long COVID Clinic in Utah has treated more than 3,000 patients over the last three years according to the clinic's medical director.

13 hours ago

Side view close-up of pregnant woman touching her belly....

Britt Johnson

Pregnant women who contract COVID could experience long COVID symptoms study finds

A recent U OF U study found out that 1 in 10 women who contract COVID during pregnancy will experience long covid symptoms.

2 days ago

air quality in utah takes a hit as smog settles over the city...

Adam Small

Wildfire smoke moving into the Wasatch Front

Air quality in Utah could be unhealthy for sensitive groups in some areas due to wind bringing in wildfire smoke from the Pacific Northwest.

3 days ago

Health officials in eastern Utah are still investigating after a dozen swimmers got sick at the Ver...

Britt Johnson

Swimming pool at Vernal hotel still closed after acid leak

A dozen swimmers became sick and were hospitalized in Vernal on Saturday, later health officials discovered acid had leaked into the pool.

4 days ago

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach receives a Covid booster vaccine on September 18, 2023.(Chri...

Alexandrea Bonilla

What’s a summer without a COVID spike?

COVID cases are surging once again this summer. The CDC says cases often rise due to the heat of the summer.

4 days ago

(Canva)...

Mariah Maynes

Researchers reveal new findings in neurological origins of creativity

A team of researchers said that a new study shows creativity may be reliant on certain neurological functions.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

‘We screwed up.’ Governor Cox retracts his Utah vaccination rates claim that 70% of eligible Utahns are vaccinated