Provo hospital trying to give out 1,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Friday

The doses of the Pfizer vaccine won’t go to waste, a Utah County Health department spokeswoman said.

(Courtesy University of Utah Health) A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech version of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Provo hospital has about 1,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that it needs to get into people’s arms, stat.

Officials at Provo’s Utah Valley Hospital have put out the word to neighboring counties that if there are people 70 or older who can get to Provo by Friday afternoon, there’s a shot of the Pfizer vaccine available for them.

People can sign up for an appointment by going to the Utah County Health Department’s website: https://healthevents.utahcounty.gov/.

Lance Madigan, spokesman for Intermountain Healthcare, said the hospital had scheduled blocks of appointments for Utah County residents to get the shots, but many slots went unfilled.

“We don’t know if everybody that wants it has already gotten it, or if it’s a technology issue — because it’s [people] 70-plus and we’re asking people to register [online] before they come,” Madigan said.

Aislynn Tolman-Hill, spokeswoman for the Utah County Health Department, said her agency has noticed declining appointment numbers for the vaccine over the last week. “We’re actually starting to see, maybe, that we’re hitting the end of the 70-and-over crowd that we’ve been trying to get vaccinated,” she said.

Utah County, Tolman-Hill said, also has its share of “vaccine hesitancy” — people wanting “to see what happens, how it goes for everybody” before getting the shot themselves.

Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, said his office received word of the available doses on Thursday. The Salt Lake County agency started making calls to people on its vaccine waitlists, asking if any of them could drive down to Provo and get a shot.

Hospital staff in Provo, Madigan said, were working at “only preparing enough to meet demand as it came, so that we would minimize waste as much as possible. … We’ll come up with a process. These won’t be dumped.”

“They don’t pull doses out of the freezer unless they know they have those appointments already spoken for,” Tolman-Hill said.

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept stored at super-cold temperatures, and pharmacists usually only thaw out vials when they know the vaccine will be used.

Rupp said officials in his agency discussed moving the doses from Provo to a Salt Lake County vaccination site. They opted against the move, Rupp said, “because we are already at full capacity with who we have staffed, and everything we have going on [Friday and Saturday] at our current sites.”