COVID Vaccine clinic

Don Morrison, director of nursing with Terry Reilly Health Services, prepares a COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic at Homedale Middle School Jan. 29.

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Idaho’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine dose allotment has increased again while another boost may be fast-approaching.

State health leaders told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that the federal government has promised 5,000 virus shots dedicated to go to retail pharmacies will come each week. That new partnership began last week, bringing shots to Albertsons and Walmart locations across Idaho.

The shipments are separate from the 25,000 doses of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna that Idaho has received weekly recently. That gives the state at least 30,000 doses each week.

“We will always get the same or more but never less,” state Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said during the call. “So we’re expecting that will continue to see at least 5,000 a week” for retail pharmacies.

The state’s weekly vaccine allotment has more than doubled since the second week of December, when the first Idahoan was inoculated against COVID-19 with the only approved shot at that time.

A third COVID-19 vaccine could be available in the U.S. soon. If a one-shot vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, Shaw-Tulloch said it could be available the first week of March.

State health Director Dave Jeppesen said last week the state hit a big milestone.

“More people in Idaho have had one dose of the vaccine than have been diagnosed” with COVID-19, he said. In total, around 191,000 Idahoans have received COVID-19 vaccinations.

About 259,000 shots, almost three-quarters of all 335,000 in the state, have been administered, Jeppesen said. Ninety-five percent of first doses have been used, which he said means “most doses are being administered within seven days” of arriving.

Currently, about 400,000 Idahoans are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine sites are recommended, but not required, to only inoculate people in state-approved priority groups.

Idaho’s vaccine advisory panel will meet Friday to discuss who will be next in line in priority group three. That group is expected to include Idahoans age 16 and up with high-risk medical conditions along with more essential workers. Gov. Brad Little has the final say on vaccine priority groups.

About 291,000 Idahoans age 65 and up eligible to receive shots are seniors. Jeppesen said 31% of them have received shots, but he said the state’s data is not specific enough to tell how many of those with shots live in long-term care facilities, which started accessing shots late December.

An estimated 265,000 Idaho seniors who live independently became eligible for shots this month. Jeppesen stressed that all seniors who want a shot will be able get one, asking for patience in the meantime.

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel can be reached at 208-542-6754. Follow him on Twitter: @pfannyyy. He is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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