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Rexburg health workers first to get COVID-19 vaccine

Rexburg health workers first to get COVID-19 vaccine
Rexburg gets first COVID-19 vaccine in Idaho

REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Eastern Idaho Public Health District was the only district in Idaho to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in its first round of distribution Monday.

The first five vaccinations were given to front-line health workers at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg.

COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is arriving in Idaho this week, and by the end of the week the state is expecting to have received all of its initial allotment of 13,650 doses of the ultra-cold vaccine.

The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee, after reviewing CDC guidance and discussing Idaho needs, has determined that healthcare workers will be receiving these initial doses. The vaccine is being distributed to Idaho’s seven local public health districts based on the number of healthcare workers in each, and they are working to ensure that vaccine is delivered to healthcare providers in their areas so they can begin giving it to their staffs.

More specifically, this initial shipment is destined for hospital staff and outpatient clinic staff who provide care for COVID-19 patients. More detail on who is in the first phases of Idaho’s vaccine rollout plan is available HERE.

“We are thrilled to finally have vaccine in hand to get vaccinations started, but we know there won’t be enough in this first shipment to vaccinate all healthcare workers who want it,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, the state’s public health officer and administrator of the Division of Public Health. “We are expecting weekly shipments going forward, but exact details are still being determined and will be forthcoming. We expect that healthcare workers will be notified by their employers as they determine a schedule for vaccinations in their facilities.”

Residents and staff of long-term care facilities are also included in the initial phase. The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee advised to follow CDC’s requirements to have a certain amount of vaccine available to the state before initiating the long-term care facility program that will be provided by specific pharmacies. This program is anticipated to begin after the second week of vaccine allocation.

“We know there are a lot of questions from Idahoans who want to know when they will be able to receive the vaccine,” Shaw-Tulloch continued. “I am encouraged by the level of interest in the vaccine, but we don’t have all of those details yet. This is a rapidly evolving situation and things are changing quickly. We are also very concerned that we don’t rush the process; vaccinators need to make sure they have the proper tools and training to get started. But rest assured that we want to get the vaccine to as many people who want it, as quickly as possible, and we will communicate more through press releases and our coronavirus.idaho.gov website as we find out more about how many doses we will receive and when.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization on Friday night for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Saturday to recommend the vaccine for use.

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Ariel Schroeder

Ariel is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

Associated Press

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