The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported Tuesday that rates of COVID-19 vaccination in Idaho have increased but the demand for approved vaccines is exceeding the supply coming into the state.
Dave Jeppesen, director of the agency, said in a media briefing that 48 percent more doses of vaccines were administered last week, compared to the previous week. However, Jeppesen said, vaccine providers are experiencing more demand for vaccines than they can provide.
Statewide, 69,398 doses of COVID vaccines had been administered to 58,549 people by Tuesday morning, with 10,762 people receiving the recommended two doses, the Department of Health and Welfare reported.
By the end of this week, Idaho is expected to have received 71,175 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 92,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine, for a total of 163,975 doses, the agency stated Tuesday. There is generally a time lag from when vaccines are shipped and received and when they are actually administered, as appointments are made and vaccination clinics are planned, the agency noted.
While the pace of vaccination is picking up, the number of doses coming into Idaho is expected to only increase slightly in the coming weeks, the agency reported. Idaho has been receiving 20,000 doses of the vaccines each week. That number is now expected to increase 2-5 percent, the agency reported, increasing allocations by about 950 doses each week.
Sarah Leeds, the agency’s Immunization Program manager, said that Idaho is expected to receive vaccine shipments specifically allocated for second doses, contrary to some previous reports.
Dr. Christine Hahn, a state epidemiologist, said it will take time for the vaccination effort to have a pronounced effect on COVID-19 case counts. She said the initial impact will be fewer health-care workers getting sick and missing work.
“Disease rates are going to take a little longer,” she said.
The Department of Health and Welfare by Tuesday had recorded 155,554 cases of COVID-19 in Idaho since the pandemic began, including 278 new cases on Monday. The state has recorded 1,607 COVID-related deaths.
Blaine County has recorded 1,725 cases of COVID-19, with 14 deaths attributed to the virus.
The St. Luke’s Health System has opened vaccine appointments to Idaho health-care workers, first responders, teachers, daycare workers and correctional/detention facility staff. Idahoans 65 and older are scheduled to be eligible next month.
Vaccine clinics at St. Luke’s Wood River on specific days continue Thursday, Jan. 21. Only people who qualify under the state’s guidelines can schedule appointments at this time.
The South Central Public District Health is also giving vaccinations to eligible recipients, through their employers. More information can be found at phd5.idaho.gov.
The state’s guidelines called for health-care personnel, professional home-care providers, and long-term care facility residents and staff to be vaccinated first. Eligibility was opened to a second group this month that includes frontline essential workers, including first responders, school teachers, child care staff, and staff at correctional facilities, followed by adults 65 and older in early February.
Other specified groups will follow, with vaccination of the general public expected to begin in May, a state timeline indicates.