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Utahs aged 50 and over can schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday.
He also said that younger Utah adults with certain health conditions could get the vaccine. New, eligible conditions include type 1 or type 2 diabetes, obesity with a BMI index of 30 or higher, and anyone with chronic kidney disease.
Cox made the announcement at his weekly COVID-19 media briefing, streamed via Facebook Live from the Utah Capitol.
“This is a huge feature boost,” Cox said, “which means not everyone in these areas gets an immediate appointment,” he added.
He asked the new eligible Utah to wait until Monday to make an appointment.
By April, Cox said the state hopes to open up vaccinations to all adults in Utah “assuming everything is as planned”.
The news comes a day after hospitals in Utah began receiving single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for emergency use on Saturday.
Before Thursday, Utah’s 65 and older were eligible to receive the vaccine along with people over 18 with serious or chronic illnesses, health care workers, first responders, teachers and residents, and staff at long-term care facilities.
Cox announced that six counties, Cache, Davis, Grand, Salt Lake, Sanpete and Wasatch, will move into the state’s “moderate” transmissions category. They join seven other counties that were previously in the “moderate” category.
“There are no ‘moderate’ restrictions on rallies,” Cox said, “as long as they wear masks.”
Cox also said he wanted to “reflect the fact that we lost nearly 2,000 Utahs from this terrible disease.”
Cox said a year ago he asked state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunne, how dire the plague will be The worst-case scenario, Dunn told Cox, had 20,000 Utah residents killed from COVID-19, the best the state could hope for was 2,000.
“We are very grateful and excited that we are in the best situation with this,” said Cox.
Dunne urged Utahs to accept any of the three vaccines while they need appointments. “The best vaccine you can get is the one that is given first, regardless of the manufacturer,” she said.
This story is in development and will be updated.