Southeastern Idaho not getting enough COVID-19 vaccines to meet the demand

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine sit on a preparation table at Portneuf Medical Center. 

In mid December, southeastern Idaho received it's first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. KPVI checked in with the health district to get an update on how the vaccine rollout is going across the eight-county region.

"I want to emphasize that patience is the name of the game with this because we just do not have enough vaccine," states Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann.

Just over a month ago, the COVID-19 vaccine became available to the Southeastern Idaho Public Health District. "To date, we've received just under 9,000 first doses," adds Mann. "And then for people who are due for their second doses, we've also received those second doses so they can have their two dose series and have full protection."

Under state mandate, vaccines are currently available to health care workers, first responders, teachers, and long-term care facilities. However, southeastern Idaho only gets about 2,000 doses a week which Mann says is not enough to meet the need. "They've been divided up among our eight-county region based on the percentage of the priority groups that we have in each of those counties," she explains. Bannock County has received about 50 percent of the district's total vaccine doses with Bingham County getting the second largest percentage of the district's total doses.

There are about three dozen providers across the eight counties which help distribute the vaccine to those who fall in this first priority category. On February 1, a new group will be eligible to start receiving it as well: people 65 and older.

"The reason for that group is because the data in Idaho show that once reach age 65, you have a significantly increased likely hood for serious outcomes if you get this virus," explains Mann.

Again, during this stage of the rollout patience will be required because the region will not have enough doses to vaccinate everyone who wants it right away. "It's probably going to take 12 to 15 weeks to get through that population," Mann says about the 65 and older group.

If you, or a loved one, falls into one of these priority groups you can visit siphidaho.org where you will find a button that takes you to a page full of information including who is eligible to get the vaccine, and what providers distribute the vaccine in each of the region's eight counties along with contact information to those providers. With that contact information, you may be able to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine.

"We understand that people want to get this shot and we're really encouraged by that," Mann states. "But again, we just really need to emphasize patience. We are going to get this vaccine out as quickly as we can as we get it. It's just we have a very small supply for a large number of people who want to receive the vaccine."

Mann also tells KPVI the general public should be able to start getting the vaccine around summer time.

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