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Kristin Murphy, KSL, File

Select pharmacies in Utah will soon have COVID-19 vaccinations

By Jed Boal, KSL TV | Posted - Feb. 4, 2021 at 8:20 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY – Starting next week, Utahns who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to roll up their sleeves at select pharmacies across the Beehive State.

The federal government will start shipping doses directly to retail pharmacies nationwide, and Utah has a contract with two chains for vaccine distribution.

Starting Feb. 11, select Smith's and Walmart pharmacies will start getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Utah immunization program manager Rich Lakin said Utahns need to be patient with this process, but he's now more optimistic about when the vaccine will be available for everyone.

"When it comes to doses delivered and doses administered, we are truly kicking butt right now," Lakin said.

He said Utah now ranks sixth in the nation for getting available vaccines into arms. The holdup continues to be the availability of vaccines and a large senior population eager to get vaccinated.

"If we had enough vaccine, we could be well deep into this campaign a lot further," Lakin said.

Pharmacy vaccinations will help. The initial shipment of 1 million doses will go to 6,500 stores across the country.

In Utah, 3,200 doses will be shared among 18 Walmarts, which is about one-third of their stores here. Smith's will receive 2,500 doses for 25 stores. That's about half of their stores in Utah.

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The vaccine allotment may increase each week so that Smith's and Walmart can add additional stores in the future.

"The nice thing about pharmacies is that they're kind of highly trusted and they have trained health care providers," said Lakin.

"People might be a little anxious about a vaccine, and it's nice for them to go to a familiar place," said Erin Fox, one of the senior pharmacy directors at University of Utah Health.

That makes a difference, she said, especially with underserved populations.

"Moving vaccines into pharmacies really does help improve getting shots into arms, which is what we have to do," said Fox.


Moving vaccines into pharmacies really does help improve getting shots into arms, which is what we have to do.

– Erin Fox, University of Utah Health


In the past, Lakin said Utah would likely open vaccines to everyone in July. But with two more vaccines nearly ready for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, he thinks Utah could get 200,000 doses a week sometime in April.

It's possible, he said, everyone in Utah could be eligible in May.

"This campaign could be over in June based on the potential of the amount of vaccine that we receive," he said.

Lakin said that's a guess based upon the best information he has as of Wednesday.

Details on which stores and how to sign up for the vaccine at Smith's and Walmart should be available early next week.

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Jed Boal

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