SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - An intensive care nurse in Salt Lake City became the first person in Utah to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday morning as hospitals began administering vaccinations to front-line healthcare workers with the highest risk of exposure.
Christy Mulder, a nurse at University of Utah Hospital, was the first person in the state to receive the vaccine. Hospital leaders expect about a total of 100 doses to be administered across the state Tuesday.
Several health care workers also received the vaccine at LDS Hospital. Sophie Woodbury, a nurse on the surgery floor, said that receiving the vaccine will help her take even better care of her patients.
"There's a lot of sick people, and we're doing our very best to take care of them. But it's also really mentally draining," Woodbury told reporters. "So if I know I have protection from the coronavirus . . . then I'm going to come to work every day in a better frame of mind and be able to provide better care mentally and physically to my patients."
State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn voiced her excitement that vaccines were finally being distributed in Utah. But she urged people to continue public health measures like wearing masks and social distancing.
"I have to say though my excitement is tempered by the fact that we are leading into another holiday season and it's going to get colder," Dunn said. "There is light at the end of the tunnel. We're just not there yet."
Intensive care unit capacity at Utah's hospitals best equipped to treat COVID-19 patients reached 92.8% on Tuesday. In Utah, 1 in 173 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week, and the state is ranked tenth in the country for new cases per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
There have been more than 237,000 reported virus cases in Utah and 1,077 known deaths related to the virus, according to state data.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.