Utah sees slow uptake for updated COVID-19 shots
About 5% of Utahns — or nearly 200,000 — have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 vaccines released in September, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Why it matters: COVID-19 cases in Utah are expected to climb as colder temperatures and upcoming holidays drive more indoor gatherings, Rich Lakin, DHHS immunization director, told Axios.
Threat level: Unvaccinated Utahns are nearly three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their vaccinated counterparts, according to state data.
- Getting inoculated lessens the severity and length of a COVID-19 infection, Lakin said.
The big picture: Just 7% of U.S. adults had received the new shots as of last month, per a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national survey.
- Government health officials have pointed to patient confusion, supply delays and vaccine apathy for the low uptake.
Details: The new vaccine is designed to protect against the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant, a dominant variant seen this year.
- Meanwhile, a new dominant variant HV.1 has emerged, but health experts say the latest vaccine should offer protection against new strains.
What they're saying: "I just don't think that people feel that it's something that they need to get right now," Lakin said.
- "I don't think they feel like the severity of the illness is worse than like the common cold."
Reality check: COVID-19 is far deadlier than the common cold.
Of note: Utah's vaccine rate is likely an undercount because the state does not require vaccinations to be reported to the state registry, he said.
The latest: DHHS is currently running a campaign to persuade Utahns aged 60 or above to talk to their doctors about staying up to date with their vaccines, including the COVID shot, this fall and winter.
- The $395,000 campaign is being covered by federal dollars.
Be smart: Utahns interested in getting a shot can make appointments at their local pharmacies, or health care providers — or contact their local health department.
- You can call the Salt Lake County Health Department to set up an appointment at 385-468-SHOT.
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