IDAHO — With Gov. Brad Little’s announcement Wednesday allowing anyone over the age of 16 to be eligible for a vaccine starting April 5, providers are now allowed more flexibility with who can get a shot and can avoid any doses going unused.
Vaccine providers have been struggling over the last few weeks to fill vaccine appointments which pushed the state to open vaccine eligibility.
“There is a need for flexibility across the state and the increasing supply, we wanted to be able to meet that request to us and therefore that’s part of the decision we made to opening us sooner,” Administrator of Public Health Elke Shaw Tulloch said.
Primary Health is one of the many providers in Idaho who were faced with the issue of not enough demand for the supply. The health organization says it has already fully vaccinated 23,000 Idahoans.
Primary Health says it has seen a decline in demand, but are looking forward to more people becoming eligible.
“There's a big difference today from when we first started,” Primary Health CEO David Peterman said. “We have so much more vaccine that’s coming to us on a weekly basis.”
In February, when those 65 and older were eligible, the state saw more people wanting a dose than appointments available. Now with increased supply and a wide range of eligibility, Primary Health believes there won't be a problem booking appointments.
“We have so much more vaccine and quite frankly, as providers giving the vaccine, we’re better at this now and we have an organized way to approach it. So, I’m not overly concerned that the demand will outstretch what we have,” Peterman said.
With this newly announced eligibility, Peterman worries that people in younger age groups will be hesitant toward the vaccine, and start letting their guard down, which would slow the state’s progress in our fight against COVID-19.
“If we end up with only 50% or 60% of our community getting the vaccine and people start to not wear their masks, this is not going to go away and we don’t want that,” Peterman said.