Gov. Spencer Cox will keep age requirement at 70 for COVID-19 vaccine

The state hopes to have enough vaccine available for people age 65 and older by February, he said.

Utah will stick with giving the COVID-19 vaccine to people age 70 and older in the next round of vaccinations, Gov. Spencer Cox said Thursday — even with a new federal guideline to give shots to everyone 65 and older as soon as possible.

“We don’t have enough vaccine assigned to the state of Utah right now to even cover those who are 70 years of age and over, over the next several weeks,” Cox said Thursday, during his weekly COVID-19 media briefing.

Cox pointed out that 73% of the Utahns who have died from COVID-19 — more than 1,000 of the 1,460 reported dead, as of Thursday — were 70 or older, or living in a long-term care facility, or both. “That is why we are so focused on those two groups right now,” Cox said.

When more vaccines are available, Cox said, health departments will open up registration to people age 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions. That should happen by late February or early March, he said.

“We can’t wait to be able to expand that to larger populations and other groups,” he said. “I know everyone is anxious to get in line to get the vaccine.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a guideline Tuesday, recommending states get vaccines to everyone 65 and older as soon as possible.

Last week, Cox announced he was lowering the minimum age for people to get vaccine to 70, with their eligibility starting Jan. 18. Cox’s predecessor, Gov. Gary Herbert, had set eligibility at age 75.