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SALT LAKE CITY – Officials with the Utah Department of Health said they will receive thousands of extra COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government next week.
Overall, it's a 17% jump from previous weeks, or about 5,500 extra doses — a solid increase considering Utah gets around 33,000 doses a week.
"We were a little surprised to see that," said Rich Lakin, immunization director for the Utah Department of Health. "If they can send us more vaccines, that's great."
Right now tens of thousands of Utahns age 70 and older are trying to get the vaccine — so many that health department websites across the state have crashed.
Lakin said they don't know why they are getting the extra doses or whether this will continue in the future.
"Unfortunately we only know from week to week what the federal government is going to send us. So it's really hard to plan into the future when you don't know how many doses you are going to get," said Lakin.
Lakin said they will decide how to distribute the extra doses and who they will be going to on Thursday. He's not sure if they will be divided up between the health departments, and they may be going to others on the waiting list.
"There are a lot of 70+ that need to be vaccinated who cannot go to local health departments, and if we can reach those populations at the same time that also reduces the burden and death due to COVID-19," said Lakin.
Editor's note: A previous version stated the percentage increase of vaccine doses as 30%. Doses of the Moderna vaccine are increasing by 30%, but those of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines combined is increasing only 17%.