Idaho's vaccine rollout speeds up but some providers are struggling to fill appointments

Posted at 11:43 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 10:18:29-05

IDAHO — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) held a weekly media briefing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to give an update on the COVID-19 vaccine status in Idaho.

The vaccine rollout is speeding up in Idaho as the state is receiving over 45,000 doses a week. Due to the supply and not as much demand, the state is moving up the date for people in group 2.3 — almost two weeks ahead of the estimated timeline.

As Idaho approaches the one-year mark of its first COVID-19 case, over 166,000 Idahoans have been fully vaccinated, according to IDHW. Since the state launched the new pre-registration system, about 45,000 people have signed up for the vaccine waitlist.

“This is a brand new tool and it is working well. We have also received some excellent feedback on ways we can make the tool even better,” IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen said.

While there is still a demand for vaccine doses, and over 55% of those ages 65 and older have gotten the first dose. But Jeppesen said the demand has started to decline. The state will release guidance for vaccine providers who might be struggling to fill appointments later this week.

“This has resulted in some vaccine providers struggling to fill their available appointments. As a result, most of the seven public health districts have already or will this week, open up Group 2.3, ahead of the previously announced March 15 date,” Jeppesen said.

People over the age of 65, front-line essential workers, homeless shelter residents, and more can currently get a vaccine. Based on supply availability, it's estimated Group 3 will be eligible sooner than expected.

"Group 3 will be an age-based approach with an emphasis on people with medical conditions for the centers of disease control and prevention as well as people with disabilities,” IDHW Administrator of Public Health Elke Shaw-Tulloch said.

You can see the new schedule for COVID-19 vaccines from the state here.

Gov. Brad Little provided introductory remarks to reflect on the upcoming one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Idaho. Little released the following statement ahead of the anniversary:

Saturday marks one year since Idaho’s first confirmed case of COVID-19.

Tragically, we have lost close to 1,900 of our fellow Idahoans to this new, dangerous, and aggressive disease. We mourn the loss of life and pray for strength and peace for the loved ones they left behind.

At least 173,000 Idahoans have been infected. Thousands have been hospitalized. Some will have to deal with longstanding health effects from COVID-19.

But now, more than 284,000 Idahoans have received the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. We have turned a corner in our pandemic fight, and I believe the worst part is behind us.

That said, we must remain vigilant. We have a way to go before we can return to “life as normal.”

I want to thank the people of Idaho, from the bottom of my heart, for the sacrifices you have made over the past year. I also want to thank the entire public health team, from frontline nurses to my state team.

Idahoans stepped up in new ways to protect lives, be there for your children, and help our state move forward.

And together, we have made a lot of progress.

We are a leading state for our share of vaccine doses administered.

We have prevented a crisis in our hospitals and case counts and hospitalizations continue to decline, while our economy, schools, and churches have stayed open.

We distributed most of our federal relief funds in direct support of Idaho citizens and businesses through tax relief and grants.

We achieved all that TOGETHER.

And now, because of our collective good efforts, we have the strongest economy in the nation. There is a direct relationship between public health and economic prosperity – and having our kids in school.

We have the most financially solvent state budget, and with our record budget surplus, we are poised to provide Idahoans with historic tax relief and make strategic investments in transportation, education, water, broadband and other critical areas through our “Building Idaho’s Future” plan.

We have low unemployment. We saw the biggest increase in personal income growth. We saw the biggest increase in small business formation over the past year.

As we reflect on a momentous past 12 months, let’s remember that we will not maintain all our progress unless we continue to take steps to protect lives.

Idaho, THANK YOU for your perseverance and sacrifice.

We will continue to get stronger TOGETHER!
Gov. Brad Little