COVID-19 booster shots now open to more Utahns

Governor Cox asks COVID-19 vaccine providers to offer booster shots to more Utahns

The following statement was sent this morning by Governor Spencer J. Cox to COVID-19 vaccine providers throughout Utah:

As of yesterday, there have been:

  • 579,376 Utahns diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • 25,273 have been hospitalized; and
  • 3,398 have died from COVID-19.

Under the current FDA emergency use authorization and CDC guidance, all individuals 18 and older who live or work in high-risk settings and received Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their primary series are eligible to receive booster doses and all individuals 18 and older who received Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine are eligible to receive booster doses.

Almost all Utahns currently reside in high-transmission counties and therefore are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Vaccine partners statewide are requested not to turn these patients away when they seek a booster dose.

Effective Friday, Nov. 19, all Utahns 18 and older should self-determine their risk of exposure and the state of Utah requests that all COVID-19 vaccine providers administer booster doses to all individuals 18 and older who seek one.

Based on the timing of their primary vaccine series, the following people could receive booster doses:

  • People who are ages 18 and older, and received their second dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine more than six months ago.
  • People who are ages 18 and older and received their first dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine more than two months ago.

Additionally, all vaccine providers are expected to proactively reach out to people over the age of 65 and people with underlying medical conditions and encourage them to seek out a booster dose. Data has shown that these groups are at higher risk of hospitalization and death as time passes from their original vaccine doses. Booster doses in Utah for individuals 65 and older are lagging behind what was achieved with the primary series by approximately 40%. With growing concerns of waning immunity and the risks posed to these vulnerable Utahns, we need to rapidly close this gap.

Ongoing high levels of community transmission continue to jeopardize the health of Utahns statewide. As cooler weather drives Utahns indoors, more individuals without full vaccine protection will be exposed to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Utah’s hospitals are in a sustained medical surge and are deploying contingency strategies. ICUs in Utah’s referral hospitals, which serve the most serious cases, are 98.4% full, and statewide, ICU occupancy is 96%.

And, while in just two short weeks, Utah has vaccinated over 44,000 children ages 5-11, until more of these children – as well as more unvaccinated individuals – receive the highly effective, safe vaccine, Utah continues to experience a significant wave of disease spread, placing all Utahns at high-risk of contracting the disease.

Additionally, due to waning immunity, pharmacy and home health partners should prioritize Long-Term Care facilities now for COVID-19 vaccine boosters in skilled nursing, assisted living, and other long-term care facilities.

As we approach the holiday season and look forward to spending time with family and friends, ensuring widespread access to, and administration of, vaccine boosters will significantly increase levels of personal protection against COVID-19.

With Thanksgiving only one week away, vaccine providers should encourage everyone eligible who determines they are at risk of exposure to schedule their booster vaccine as soon as possible.

Anyone who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine should get their first dose immediately.

Once again, I am calling on Utahns to be One Utah and do their part to protect ourselves and fellow citizens in this battle against this virus. Thank you for your help in this effort.

Spencer J. Cox

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