Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson spent Friday afternoon touring a Spanish Fork vaccination facility with a handful of Utah County health officials as hundreds of residents over 70 lined up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Utah County Health Department-operated facility opened earlier this week inside an old Shopko location in south Utah County.
Eric Edwards, a health officer with the county health department, said more than 1,700 vaccinations would be administered at the facility by the end of Friday, the highest daily count since the facility opened on Tuesday.
That is because extra spots became available on Friday, allowing hundreds of additional Utah County residents to get vaccinated.
Edwards said the vaccine rollout at the facility had been “good,” adding “efficiencies we need to work out so that we can get vaccine distribution as safe and effective as possible.”
A “whole army” of county departments and employees came together in designing, building and running the vaccination site, according to Edwards, including the Utah County Public Works Department and Information Systems department.
Henderson, who Gov. Spencer Cox put in charge of overseeing vaccine administration statewide, said in an interview that “the goal is to get all of the vaccines in arms as quickly as possible each week, and they (local health departments) get new doses every week.”
The lieutenant governor added the 13 health departments throughout the state “are working on their capacities, what they can do with their personnel and their current locations, and putting plans in place so that they can increase those capacities as they are starting to do second doses and as we’re starting to see more doses allocated to the states from the federal government.”
“And that’s coming,” said Henderson, who lives in Spanish Fork. “So these plans have had to be put in place really quickly, and looking around that corner and making sure that we understand what we’re going to do, what the plans are for when we have more doses delivered to the state.”
Utah County Commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich joined the lieutenant governor as she toured the Spanish Fork vaccine facility on Friday.
Sakievich said the commissioners “streamlined” the process for acquiring the facility when they learned it was available. On Jan. 13, the commission voted to ratify a lease agreement to use the old retail store.
“The frustration is they have roughly 60,000 people in the county who are over 70 wanting the COVID (vaccine), and it fills up the schedule within three, maybe four minutes,” the commissioner said.
Lee said the commission’s role with vaccination rollout in the county is to support the health department “on a financial basis” and reduce “road blocks” for health officials.
“A lot of people don’t realize all the hiccups that come with it, the ups and downs,” he said. “It’s really trying to figure it out as you go and build it as you’re performing the process at the safe time. So it’s more complicated than, I think, that all of us probably ever anticipated.”
“But I believe it’s going in a great, great direction,” Lee added.
Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.