Utah is getting ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to more members of the public. The next wave of people will be eligible starting in March.
Who is eligible for a vaccine now? Who is eligible in March?
Currently, the list of people who can get a vaccine includes people who are older than 70, healthcare workers, first responders, K-12 teachers and K-12 school staff.
Starting March 1, that list will open up to people who are 65 and older, and anyone over 18 with a pre-existing medical condition approved by the state. People who have had most types of cancer in the past year will be eligible. People who have been diagnosed with hematologic cancer, or blood cancer, anytime in the past five years will be eligible. Anyone with uncontrollable diabetes, categorized as a1c levels of 9.0 or higher, will be eligible for a shot. People who are considered obese based on having a body mass index of 40 or higher will be eligible. If you are receiving immunosuppression therapy or have a weakened immune system because of medication or HIV, you will be eligible for the vaccine.
Other eligible conditions include being a solid organ transplant recipient, having severe kidney disease, having chronic liver disease including hepatitis B or C, having chronic heart disease not including hypertension, having chronic respiratory disease not including asthma, having neurological conditions that impact respiratory function including Parkinson’s disease and Down Syndrome, having had a stroke or dementia and having asplenia including sickle cell disease.
How do I prove that I have a medical condition that makes me eligible for a vaccine?
You don’t have to. The state is relying on the honor system and asking those without underlying conditions not to take vaccines from those who have serious medical conditions.
“If you don’t fall in those categories … don’t seek a vaccine,” state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said at a press briefing this week.
I qualify for a vaccine! That means I should call my health department to set up an appointment, right?
Wrong. March appointment slots are not open yet.
Public announcements will be made when it is time for people to sign up. The state is asking residents not to bother local health departments while they focus on vaccinating people over 70. Anything that slows that process down will delay vaccine distribution for other groups, according to the state.
Salt Lake County Health Department Spokesman Nicholas Rupp said people can probably start scheduling March appointments about a week before the end of February. If the March schedule opens sooner the public will be informed.
“They are not open now,” he said, “(Residents) should not call us or try to get an appointment now.”
I don’t qualify for a vaccine in March. When can I get vaccinated?
More people should be able to get the vaccine in April. The state plans to expand vaccine eligibility to more age groups, more preexisting conditions and to people who live in congregate settings like prisons.
All Utahns should be able to get a vaccine this spring or summer, according to current state plans.