Taelor Leonelli, RN, administers a COVID-19 vaccine at the Tooele County Health Department building.

Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio, File

3 health care providers join Utah's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan ahead of state's expected allotment rise

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - Mar. 1, 2021 at 1:36 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:51 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Health officials announced Monday the agency is turning to three major health care providers to help expand COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the state beginning this week, ahead of a jump in allotted vaccines.

Intermountain Healthcare, Nomi Health and University of Utah Health will all help vaccinate Utahns under the agreement with the state. All three said Monday that they had operations set up already and intended to expand operations in the coming weeks before the state's weekly allotment of vaccines is expected to more than double weekly totals from previous weeks.

"These partners will increase our reach throughout the state. They will be able to offer large-scale vaccination clinics in some areas where we're currently unable to do so," said Tom Hudachko, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health. "They have established relationships with many residents in the state who have underlying medical conditions, so we will rely on them to help with those populations."

Additional vaccine distribution

About 10% of the state's total population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the state health department. The partnerships announced Monday won't replace existing vaccine rollout locations such as those announced by local health departments or at various pharmacies across the state.

Monday's announcement was made as the first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were expected to arrive in Utah this week. The Utah Department of Health expected 122,000 total first and second vaccine doses to arrive this week, adding in doses from the new drug manufacturer.

The local health departments, combined, able to vaccinate a little over 120,000 people per week, Hudachko said. That's currently a mix of people receiving their first or second dose of the vaccine. The weekly allotment is now at that maximum.

With many more vaccine doses coming in this month, state health department leaders knew they would need to expand vaccination services. That's why they requested the help of health care providers, especially since all three likely already cared for Utahns age 16 to 65 with pre-existing health conditions who were recently made eligible to receive the vaccine.

"We always intended to activate additional once we had surpassed the capacity of the local health departments to administer vaccines," Hudachko said.

Officials for all three health care providers revealed their plans for the vaccination Monday.

Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain announced seven locations where Utahns who qualify to receive the vaccine can schedule a vaccination appointment. They are:

  • Logan Regional Hospital (500 E. 1400 North)
  • McKay-Dee Hospital (4401 S. Harrison Blvd. in Ogden)
  • Park City Hospital (900 Round Valley Drive)
  • Riverton Hospital (3741 W. 12600 South)
  • St. George Regional Medical Center (1380 E. Medical Center Drive)
  • The Orthopedic Speciality Hospital (TOSH) (5848 S. 300 East in Murray)
  • Utah Valley Hospital (1034 N. 500 West in Provo)

All seven locations will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, said Dr. Kristin Dascomb, medical director of infection prevention for employee health for Intermountain Healthcare. The Utah Valley Hospital will also provide the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

"We're looking to distribute as much as possible," she said.

Anyone eligible for the vaccine can set up an appointment by going to the Intermountain website. Anyone with questions is encouraged to call 887-777-7061.

Nomi Health

Nomi Health reached an agreement with Larry H. Miller Group to hold vaccination clinics at Megaplex Theatres across parts of Utah.

Their clinics up and running include Megaplex locations in:

  • Lehi, Utah County: 2935 N. Thanksgiving Way
  • Vineyard, Utah County: 600 N. Mill Road
  • West Valley City, Salt Lake County: 3601 S. 2400 West
  • South Jordan, Salt Lake County: 3761 W. Parkway Plaza Drive

Dr. June Steely, the medical director for Nomi Health, said the organization plans to add a location in Centerville beginning Thursday and more locations closer to Logan next week. Potential new locations are possible later on for places in southern Utah.

"Some of them the observation period is in the theater itself, and others it's more in lobby or in a ballroom," she said.

Nomi Health also has the capability to hold "pop-up clinics" with the capacity to distribute 250 vaccines per day through that method, she said. Those locations will be determined through agreements with county health departments.

Nomi currently has the capacity to vaccinate as many as 2,000 Utahns per day or 12,000 every week. Steely said the organization is working to expand that number in coming weeks.

Utahns who qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine can register to get one from Nomi Health through a webpage set up by the state. Anyone needing help to register online can call 801-704-5911, Steely added.

U. of Utah Health

University of Utah Health currently can vaccinate people at two locations:

  • University of Utah Hospital on the university campus in Salt Lake City
  • Redwood Health Center at 1525 W. 2100 South in Salt Lake City

The organization plans to expand locations to health centers in Farmington, South Jordan and Sugar House next week, according to Dr. Richard Orlandi, chief medical officer at Ambulatory Health at the University of Utah.

He said the provider was given 2,340 for this week; that number is expected to jump to 5,340 by next week before they "continue to ramp up" distribution in the weeks after that.

"I think many of us in this partnership have additional capacity beyond what is currently what we're receiving," he added. "That's true for the state overall. We're using up everything we're getting as a state."

Anyone who qualifies to receive the vaccine based on medical records should have received an invitation to set up an appointment in their MyChart account. The health care provider was also trying to extend invites through email, text messages and phone calls, Orlandi said.

'One-stop shop'

State officials said they set up a "one-stop shop" website dedicated to all sorts of information about the vaccine, including links to where Utahns who qualify for the vaccine can sign up to receive it.

Thirteen local health departments and nine different retail pharmacies already provided vaccinations before the three new parters announced Monday. All partners are allowed to use systems they are familiar with instead of having a uniform plan everyone would have to adopt, Hudachko said.

"There is going to be some confusion potentially since there is no single source but we believe it's outweighed by the efficiencies that are obtained by allowing these systems to use their existing registration sites," he said.

An increase in supply

The state learns every Tuesday what their upcoming allotments will be; the state health department expects to see their allotment of prime Moderna vaccines to double as early as next week and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to "more than double" because both drug manufacturers have increased their supply, Hudachko said.

Hudachko explained the state's weekly vaccine allotment is based on its share of adult population compared to other states in the country. Utah's overall younger population is why the state continues to be low on the number of vaccines administered compared to other places in the U.S.

For instance, NPR's COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker on Monday listed Utah as 49th in the country in total population vaccinated, even though it was ninth in the U.S. in terms of percentage of vaccine used. States with higher adult populations get more vaccine doses.

"The federal takes a state's share of the total U.S. adult population and allocates vaccine to the state based on that," Hudachko said. "In Utah, we have about 0.84% of the total U.S. adult population ... so Utah receives about 0.84% that are available nationally."

Once received, the doses are distributed to local health departments in a similar fashion. Counties with more adults receive more vaccine doses. It's broken down at even a smaller scale to determine how many vaccines a provider will receive to administer.

The recent rise has little to do with the fact that the state has opened up eligibility to people with health conditions that result in higher risks for severe COVID-19 infections.

"Pfizer and Moderna are really ramping up their production," Hudachko said.

This sudden rise is what prompted the need to expand vaccination services sooner.

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