Lt. Gov. visits campus as vaccines roll out to Weber and Morgan counties

Caitlyn Nichols

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson visited the Weber-Morgan COVID-19 vaccination site in the Dee Events Center on the Weber State University campus on Jan. 20.

Lt. Governor, Deidre Henderson, visits Covid-19 vaccination sites throughout the state of Utah.  To include the Dee Event Center in Weber County.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson visits COVID-19 experimental vaccination sites throughout the state of Utah, including the Dee Event Center in Weber County. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

The visit was part of Henderson’s tour of all the vaccination sites throughout the state. Weber-Morgan was her 10th visit out of the total 13 sites.

She said all sites in general are going well, each tailoring to the needs of the community, and that Weber-Morgan’s site was impressive and smooth.

The vaccine rollout for Weber and Morgan counties started on Jan. 5 at the Dee Events Center by invitation only to healthcare workers and volunteers in non-hospital settings, including medical and dental services and emergency responders.

“We are so grateful to have Weber State University in our backyard,” said Brian Bennion, executive director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department. “They have made their facility and staff available to us and have been active participants in keeping this community safe throughout this pandemic.”

Jan. 20 was the first day the Weber-Morgan Health Department made vaccinations available to the general public, starting with all those aged 70 and older. Bennion said they had maxed out on the number of appointments they could take that day, at 1,810 appointments, due to running out of vaccines.

Henderson said demand is greater than supply for the vaccine right now. The faster they administer the vaccine, the more people that get it, the more likely they will be to get more vaccines.

“We’re not going to get more doses if we have a whole bunch sitting on shelves in the state that haven’t been administered yet,” Henderson said.

Henderson mentioned that Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order a couple of weeks ago to get these doses administered within seven days. Henderson’s message was that if the health departments can get it administered quicker, as in within five or six days, that would be ideal.

The categories to receive the vaccine after 70-plus have not yet been determined, but Henderson said they would be arranging that within the next few weeks

Bennion said the goal is to work quickly through the priority groups, hopefully getting them done with at least the first dose of the vaccine by the end of February.

Bennion said they’ll then, of course, have the second dose to worry about, unless Johnson & Johnson can get its one-dose vaccine out soon, which might make the process quicker. He said they’re working as efficiently and quickly as they can.

How quickly they can get the vaccine out depends on how quickly they can administer it and receive more doses. Amid all the uncertainty, Henderson and Bennion ask the public for patience.

“Certainty is something that we don’t have a lot of right now, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have,” Henderson said.

Henderson also said there is much uncertainty about how quickly this vaccine will help the community return to a pre-pandemic normalcy, again depending on how quickly it can be administered.

“It’s still going to be a little bit of time, but this is the means to the end, and it’s really nice to finally be proactive instead of simply reactive in this pandemic,” Henderson said.

Bennion said they’ll keep vaccinating as long as there are people who want to be vaccinated. The goal, of course, is to get 100% of the population vaccinated.

Until the state infection rates lower to a comfortable and safe level, the state will continue to follow pandemic mandates.

“We’re just happy to be able to have the vaccine and start putting it in people’s arms, and we’ll continue to share our plans as they develop,” Bennion said.