SALT LAKE CITY — Utah leaders said they were flooded with questions from doctors and non-medical professionals alike about how they could help the state in the weeks after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson provided an answer to those questions Thursday. She unveiled the state's "call to action" volunteer effort that allows people with professional medical backgrounds to sign up to administer COVID-19 shots and people without the expertise to help out in other ways.
"We need a lot of people, and we need medical professionals and others who can help and who want to assist," she said.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering can do so by going to UtahResponds.org. There, they can register in the statewide volunteer registry that's used to organize volunteers. The website is open to all Utahns regardless of whether they have medically licensed professional skills.
Once someone has registered, he or she can get professional credentials verified and receive volunteer assignments at local health departments and upcoming statewide vaccine clinics. The site also allows people to see where there is a need for volunteers.
"We're asking for people who want to help to please sign up and be willing to work for at least four-hour shifts," Henderson said. "Please know that just because you sign up to be a volunteer, that does not mean that you qualify for a vaccine."
The lieutenant governor said there is an "immediate need" for volunteers who are qualified to administer vaccines or monitor individuals after they receive their shot. That group includes anyone who has received a medical license from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah Nursing Assistant Registry and the Utah Department of Health's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness.
The list of people who may qualify for that need include:
- Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or nurse practitioners
- Temporary graduate nurses or temporary registered nurse apprentices
- Paramedics or advanced EMTs
- Certified nursing assistants
- Pharmacists, pharmacy interns or pharmacy technicians
- Physician assistants or medical assistants
- Certified patient aides or certified nurse-midwives
- Respiratory therapists
- Dentists or dental hygienists
- Physical therapists or physical therapy assistants
- Occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants
Henderson said if anyone within the list professions isn't currency certified to administer vaccines, the state would work with them to get certified as quickly as possible.
If you don't have medical expertise, there are still ways to help. Henderson said the state will still need volunteers for traffic control, data entry and security. Details about all of the roles Utah is asking for was posted to the state's coronavirus website Thursday.
"It may take us a couple of weeks for us to use you, as we get these statewide clinics, but we can use vaccinators immediately," Henderson said. "We need you. We need you badly, and this is the bright shining light at the end of the dark tunnel."
Gov. Spencer Cox previously hinted a volunteer program would be launched, especially by the time the state expects to receive more vaccines and vaccinate more people beginning in March.
He added that "an enormous amount of planning" was needed to ensure the growing supply of vaccines reached the arms of every Utah adult who wanted one, which is why they knew they would need all the help they could receive. The state has developed a knack for volunteering, and the governor said he was appreciative of everyone who has already reached out to ask how they could help.
"We're grateful for the incredible volunteers that we have in this state," Cox said. "We're going to need you. We're going to need many of you. We're going to have to coordinate this in a way that makes sense and that we can use the volunteer workforce that we have here in the state."