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SANDY — Salt Lake County officials opened a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Mountain America Expo Center, allowing Utahns age 70 and older to get their first doses of the vaccine.
The location, which opened Monday, is currently the largest mass vaccination site in the state.
One couple said they were eager to get the vaccine as soon as possible for a very specific reason.
"I've been forbidden to go to work by my doctor," said Richard Durrant.
Durrant and his wife, Joyce, waited 15 minutes after getting their shots to make sure they didn't have some kind of adverse reaction.
He drives a bus for UTA, and his doctor won't let him work until he is protected from the virus.
"I'm too susceptible to COVID," he said. "I have hypertension, diabetes and arthritis."
After he receives the second dose of the vaccine, he can go back.
"It's important to me to get back to work because I really enjoy driving the bus and the camaraderie with the other drivers," Durrant said.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spent the day helping out, honoring a day of service in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.
Wilson said she knows COVID-19 has left many seniors feeling isolated and apprehensive.
"To see people today coming through nervous in our parking lot and leaving literally 20- to 25-minutes later with smiles on their faces, it's so rewarding," the mayor said.
To see people today coming through nervous in our parking lot and leaving literally 20- to 25-minutes later with smiles on their faces, it's so rewarding.
–Jenny Wilson, Salt Lake County mayor
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson joined the mayor for a tour. She has now visited eight out of 13 health departments in the state to check on their ability to deliver the vaccine.
"Almost all of them have a really good process and plan in place," said Henderson. "I have, so far, only heard of two doses that ended up having to be wasted because they expired."
Right now, Salt Lake County is vaccinating 1,000 people a day at the expo site and another 1,000 people a day at a mass vaccination site at the Maverik Center.
"We are prepared to ramp up the number of doses," said Wilson. "It's so smooth that I wish we had another thousand people coming in the door today because we could handle it."
They are ready to vaccinate more people, she said, when more vaccines are made available.
All of the vaccine in Salt Lake County, so far, has been allotted. But seniors 70 years or older can sign up to get notified when more arrive so they can schedule their appointment.
"It was easy," said Joyce Durrant of the shot. "No pain, no strain, no anything."
Salt Lake County officials expect vaccines will be available for everyone in the summer.
More information can be found at the Salt Lake County Health Department's webpage on COVID-19 vaccines.