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BOISE — As vaccine continues to arrive in Idaho, and in alignment with the state and public health districts, St. Luke’s Health System announced Monday it will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine this week to broader groups of community members in the next high-risk group. People who qualify under the State’s “Group 1A” classification include high-risk non-St. Luke’s health care workers, emergency responders, and very specific essential workers.

Scheduling for St. Luke’s COVID vaccine appointments for these designated groups opened at noon Monday, Jan. 11., with the first appointments opening throughout the week and depending on the location. Only people who fall within the state’s designated Group 1A should schedule appointments at that time.

St. Luke’s COVID-19 vaccinations to date

To be consistent with Idaho’s COVID-19 vaccine program, St. Luke’s developed a tiered approach to vaccinations starting with highest-risk health care personnel. For three weeks, St. Luke’s focused on vaccinating its qualifying employees and providers. St.Luke’s will have administered approximately 8,000 vaccines by the end of Monday, with the majority of those as 1st time doses.

Due to the quick progress made, St. Luke’s is now addressing the next prioritized group based on availability of the vaccine and recommendations from Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. The state has divided the community into groups based on the risk of routine exposure to COVID-positive individuals and criteria for increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

St. Luke’s opens COVID vaccinations to high-risk community groups

St. Luke’s will now add those who qualify for Group 1A to its vaccination plan in alignment with Idaho’s vaccine program and participation with the health districts as a vaccinator. A complete list of who is included can be found on the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s coronavirus website.

To verify appropriate group placement, people will be required to provide proof of employment at their appointment. COVID vaccine will not be given if the patient does not have the proper proof of their job. Examples include a badge, pay stub or W2.

St. Luke’s patients can schedule appointments online using myChart for the quickest access. People who have never used St. Luke’s services may set-up a myChart account by calling 208-381-9000. Those who cannot use myChart because they do not speak English, have a disability that prevents them from doing so, or they don’t have the necessary technology may call St. Luke’s Connect at 208-381-9500 to set up an appointment when their phase and subgroup opens up for scheduling.

St. Luke’s will open the same number of appointments as it has in vaccine doses, so people are encouraged to check back if they do not immediately receive an appointment. St. Luke’s will also open three additional COVID vaccine clinics in McCall, Wood River and Twin Falls to serve the needs of those rural communities.

Future COVID-19 vaccinations

At this time, St. Luke’s is unable to set a specific timeline for when other groups will open for scheduling and is working to balance community demand with vaccine supply. St. Luke’s continues to be reliant on health districts along with state and federal planning for many pieces of its vaccine program, including the amount of vaccine it receives weekly.

Patients interested in learning more about the COVID-19 vaccine should NOT call their local St. Luke’s clinic or provider. Instead, they can stay informed by:

• Finding the latest COVID-19 vaccine information at the St. Luke’s COVID-19 Resources page or following the quick link at the top of StLukesOnline.org.

• Reading FAQs St. Luke’s COVID-19 vaccine page.

• Following St. Luke’s on your preferred social media sites.

• Checking the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s COVID-19 vaccine information page.

The press release said that while St. Luke’s is a choice for those who will want to get the vaccine, it is not the only choice. Many health care organizations in Idaho are working to expand access and provide vaccines at the direction of the state and their local public health districts. People are encouraged to seek out appointment information from other sources, as well.

Moving forward

When anyone gets a COVID vaccine, it helps to protect us all, but until a significant number of people are vaccinated, it should only be considered an additional tactic in prevention efforts. St. Luke’s encourages the community to continue to practice good measures to prevent the spread of the virus like face coverings, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

St. Luke’s will continue to be transparent and timely in communications, given the dynamic nature of all aspects of the pandemic, and is grateful for the patience, flexibility and understanding being exhibited as it works rapidly to both respond to the pandemic and share information regarding the health care organization’s response.

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