TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Governor Brad Little stopped at the College of Southern Idaho Wednesday morning, taking a moment to discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Since receiving the first doses of the vaccine in December, the state has run into some distribution bumps in the road. Last week, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) found out that Idaho will not see a large increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses from the previously announced release of second doses.
IDHW says the federal government notified them the state will receive a 2-5% increase in the number of weekly doses or around 950 extra doses each week. That adds up to Idaho receiving 20,950 vaccine doses each week for the foreseeable future.
Governor Little says because of these circumstances, it's critical eligible people receive the vaccine first and schedule an appointment to get it done.
"The scheduling is so important, and it's important for people, and I want to emphasize this, if they set up an appointment, to show up for their appointment. If they don't show up for their appointment, that means all that infrastructure sitting there, and the worst-case scenario is at the end of the day, we have some vaccine that goes bad," said Little.
As vaccines are shipped out to health districts, hospitals, and clinics, Governor Little clarified that consistent communication with these establishments is vital, especially with regards to determining what resources they may need.
"I've got them scheduled, I think, every week to talk to every health district, whether it be the hospitals, the long-term care facilities, the pharmacies. This is really critical to me that we get this vaccine out."
There is still a concern in the Magic Valley and statewide about being able to get the vaccine out effectively to more and secluded and rural areas. A huge factor in this issue is that some areas do not have a sufficient number of providers to administer the vaccine.
"We're going to put incentives in place there, but you know, those people are often used to going into town anyway, but we'll do both. We'll send out clinics there, and then we'll try and schedule them so they can come to town," said Little.
To try and help and make the distribution work more effectively, the governor is enlisting the Idaho National Guard.
"I want them to surge in the vaccine because that is so important so if a health district or community doesn't have enough resources to do vaccines, and they're doing contact tracing or testing, we're going to move them in."
An initiative the governor mentioned involved a coordinated effort with hospitals, health districts, and the National Guard in providing drive-through clinics across the state.
The next priority group will be vaccinated starting February 1st.