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Health District's vaccine distribution plan when a provider runs out of supply

Posted at 7:52 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 10:24:59-05

TWIN FALLS — St. Luke's recently announced how vaccine appointments for the next priority group filled up in a matter of minutes and now must wait for the next batch of doses to begin scheduling more residents to continue administering the vaccine.

Although St. Luke's does receive their own batch of vaccines, like other clinics, they also rely on their local health district to issue a certain number of vaccines depending on the demand.

Dr. Scott Milner, the Senior Director of Pharmacy for St. Luke's, said, "Every week, we're communicating what our capacity is, and we're competing to some degree to say, hey, I can do 2,000 or whatever the number might be. Then that district office will say, here's how much we're going to give you or allocate you."

When a provider runs out of doses, they have to report back to the health district. In doing so, the district has to consider multiple factors for its next round of distribution, such as a county's population, supply, demand, and availability in that area.

Public Information Officer For South Central Public Health District, Brianna Bodily, said, "How much we provided to that provider in the last shipment versus another provider. How many vaccine doses have they been able to give away. We're not going to give 500 doses to somebody who has a stockpile that haven't been able to use them yet. But we might give a bunch of new doses to a facility or agency that has run completely out of vaccines."

The Health District must keep tabs on how many residents each region or clinic can vaccinate to try and accomplish herd immunity effectively. Since St. Luke's Magic Valley is a central hub for many residents and can reach large numbers of people, the health district will have to prioritize them to receive more vaccines than a small clinic in a rural community.

"We're trying to get vaccines to as many people as possible and do it in a fair way. Which means that a clinic that provides care for 500 people will get access to more vaccines than a clinic that provides care for 50 people," said Bodily.

In the grand scheme of things, it is still very early in the vaccination process, and yes, supply is limited, but the best thing to do is remain patient. For residents who may think there are vaccines to spare, at this moment, it would require a set of extraordinary circumstances to do so.

Bodily said, "The only situation I can think of is if there was some sort of technical problem or if a facility's entire staff got sick. So suddenly, they weren't able to use what they were planning to use. That's the only way that I can think of a facility not being able to use their vaccine at this point in time."

The South Central Public Health District is still set to receive vaccines weekly, and officials expect its next batch of 2,600 doses to arrive this Wednesday.